About Us

SHAPESHIFTERS CINEMA is an experimental microcinema located in Oakland, CA. Our mission is to provide a venue and support for contemporary artists working with experimental and artist-made film, video, sound, music and other types of mediated performance. We host regular, live events, offer workshops on experimental moving image and sound production and operate a storefront shop specializing in print publications, DVDs, sound recordings and other artist-made media.

SHAPESHIFTERS BREWERY makes a variety of small-batch, seasonal, hand-crafted beers, brewed on-site in a space right behind the cinema. These are served (to 21+) at all our events as well as some off-site events. Find out more at shapeshiftersbrewery.com

SHAPESHIFTERS CAFÉ, is right next door to our cinema! We offer freshly-made salads, sandwiches, coffee, tea, pastries and more. Open M-F, 6am-3pm. Find out more at shapeshifterscafe.com


Gilbert Guerrero - Operations Director & A/V Tech
Kathleen Quillian - Programming Director
Ellie Vanderlip - Workshop Coordinator/Administration Assistant

Join us every Thursday night from 5-9PM for our weekly Happy Hour! Choose from a rotating selection of cold beers on tap, made on-site in our microbrewery, as well as from a limited menu of beer-friendly delectables. Each week we will also have a fun, low-key activity to entertain you, including Drink & Draw on Film, Dead Media Salon, A/V Club and Live Music. Find out more!


567 5th Street
Oakland, CA 94607

Shapeshifters Cinema sits on the historic territory of Huichin, the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo Muwekma Ohlone, successors of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County.

Our building is wheelchair-accessible and has one wheelchair-accessible bathroom.


We are currently open every Thursday night for Happy Hour from 5-9pm and when we have a scheduled event. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, unless otherwise noted.

Show Your Support

Shapeshifters is a volunteer-run organization. Every donation we receive goes towards supporting our on-going operational costs. Donations are tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, San Francisco Cinematheque, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.


Call for Work

Gravitational Lensing is a new series dedicated to exploring the visions, voices, concerns and lineage of women, non-binary, genderqueer and trans filmmakers through public film screenings, workshops, conversations and presentations. We are interested in considering all types of films, including experimental, narrative, documentary, expanded/performance-based work and even home movies! Selected work will be curated into programs that will be exhibited at Shapeshifters in 2024. Find out more and submit your work!

Upcoming Programs & Events

Eric Thiese

A Synesthete’s Atlas: Cartographic Improvisations between Eric Theise and Santomieri-Farhadian Duo
Friday, December 1, 2023
Admission: $15 (discount for members)

Real-time cartographic improvisations using projected, manipulated digital maps by Eric Theise in collaboration with Thea Farhadian, violin and electronics, and Dean Santomieri, electric resonator guitars. A visual wash of street grids, land masses, water bodies, and curiosities from built and natural environments. Chromatic timbres and iridescent micro-tonalities. Orphaned labels and free-floating symbology. Auditory roundabouts and redirections. Saturated colors and the subtlest of tints. Sounds symphonic and screeching. Jittery zooms, pans, and traversals. Glitches in crowdsourced data.

This performance will last approximately 50 minutes and will occasionally introduce strobing effects that may affect photosensitive viewers.

Electrical Gaza

Fundraiser Screening for Palestine
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Admission: $10-100, sliding scale

Please join us for a fundraiser screening to support the people of Palestine. ALL proceeds brought in from this fundraiser will be donated to Medical Aid for Palestinians (UK) and the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (US)—two relief organizations suggested by the participating filmmakers.

We will be screening two films from two different decades that focus on the daily life and struggles of the citizens in Gaza.

Electrical Gaza (2015) by Rosalind Nashashibi / 16mm & animation (HD video provided by LUX), 18 mins.

Electrical Gaza combines Nashashibi's footage of Gaza, and the fixer, drivers and translator who were her constant company, with animated scenes. Nashashibi presents Gaza as under a spell; isolated, suspended in time, difficult to access and highly charged. Electrical Gaza shows us Gaza as Nashashibi experienced it in the quiet pause before the onslaught of Israeli bombardment in the summer of 2014.

Gaza Ghetto: Portrait of a Palestinian Family (1984) Joan Mandell, PeA Holmquist, Pierre Bjorklund / 16mm (print provided by Sebastian Di Trolio), 82 min

In the first documentary film made in Gaza, Gaza Ghetto (1984) highlights the historical precedents that fuel the current cycles of violence and continue at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Intimate scenes of family life (a child born, a grandmother dies) in Jabalia, the largest Palestinian refugee camp, are intercut with visits to the architects of the Israeli military occupation. Ariel Sharon, Benyamin Beneliezar and soldiers on patrol candidly discuss their responsibilities. Gaza Ghetto shows how the roots of the Palestine-Israel conflict influence today's harsh realities and dreams of peace, justice and stability.

If you are unable to attend the screening, but would like to contribute to the cause, please DONATE HERE. (Tickets to the screening can be purchased above.)

David Sherman and Rebecca Barten

Rebecca Barten & David Sherman
Friday, December 8, 2023
Admission: $10 (discount for members)

San Francisco expats, Rebecca Barten & David Sherman (proprietors of the original microcinema Total Mobile Home) screen a night of their individual short personal 16mm and video works that span years of experimental practice. In their essayistic explorations of mediumist histories, Barten and Sherman share poetic collage aesthetics and existential/romantic sensibilities. This evening's themes include primitive cinema, eros, animals and eschatology. Featuring premieres of new works, including Barten's With My Own Eyes, I Have Seen the Appearance of Things Disappear and Sherman's DiElectric Drift.

Rebecca and David will also be presenting an expanded history of Total Mobile Home microCINEMA at Other Cinema on Saturday, November 25.


Harry Smith's Early Abstractions w/live music + Uman, Povey, Behrens & Reeves
Friday, December 15, 2023
Admission: $18 (discount for members)

As part of the centennial celebrations happening this year in honor of the famously eclectic and spirited polymath Harry Smith, we are excited to share a program of abstract, experimental and hand-made films. The program centers around Smith's own Early Abstract Animations (six short films made between 1946-1952) which will be presented on 16mm film and accompanied by live, improv jazz music by Lisa Mezzacappa, Cory Wright, Brett Carson & Kjell Nordeson. Rounding out the program will be a selection of contemporary, abstract and direct animation films (also presented on 16mm film) by Naomi Uman, Thad Povey, Jon Behrens and Jennifer Reeves.

Special Programming

Shapeshifters has been invited to take the helm of cinema programming for the month of December at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as part of Bay Area Now 9, YBCA's triennial exhibition highlighting artists working throughout the Bay Area. As part of our programming we have organized several screenings and workshops—all of which will take place at YBCA.

Special Screenings — Shapeshifters @ YBCA

Any Puls

Prismatic Permutations: Looping Film Program
Presented by Shapeshifters Cinema at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
December 1-31, 2023
The program will show continuously in the YBCA screening room during museum hours (11-5pm)

Prismatic Permutations is an hour-long program of documentation of select expanded cinema performances that have been presented by Shapeshifters Cinema over its 11-year history. The program represents the various ways artists have worked with time-based media by combining various forms of live, improvised and/or mediated performance that push past the traditional confines of the film screen to create ephemeral, one-of-a-kind experiences that defy category. The program features documentation of performances by Minoosh Zomorodinia; Andy Puls; Kerry Laitala & Kenneth Atchley; Tommy Becker; Keith Evans w/The Rae Diamond Long Tone Choir; Killer Banshee; Dennis Keefe, Jim Baldocchi, Agnes Szelag & Kanoko Nishi; Jeremy Rourke; and Kit Young w/Tonya Powell, Tina Combs, Roy Lobato & Joel Mulen.

Zack Parinella

Spectral Evidence: Live, Expanded Cinema
Presented by Shapeshifters Cinema at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Saturday, December 9, 2023
Admission: $9

Spectral Evidence is a live, expanded cinema program featuring kinetic, multi-projector and multi-media performances by Zack Parrinella & Zekarias Musele Thompson; Suki O’Kane with Andy Cowitt, Rae Diamond and paige starling sorvillo; and Greta Snider & Headboggle. This one day event will take place in YBCA's screening room.

Special Workshops — Shapeshifters @ YBCA

Material Cinema @ YBCA

Material Cinema
Instructor: Ellie Vanderlip
Saturday, December 2, 2023
In-person at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Learn how to repurpose castaway mid-century 16mm film through scratching, painting, puncturing, boiling, bleaching, and more with filmmaker Ellie Vanderlip. Participants will review various “destructive” methods and examples and then jump into experimenting themselves, with each student creating their own sample reel of techniques to take home. Film and art materials will be provided. This workshop is crafted for both those who are new to these processes and those who are interested in deepening their knowledge.

Cyanotype on Film @ YBCA

Cyanotype on Film
Instructor: John Davis
Sunday, December 17, 2023
In-person at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Admission: $20

Led by filmmaker John Davis, this one-day workshop provides participants a comprehensive understanding of the chemistry, tools, and techniques necessary to print permanent cyanotype images on various outdated or new 16mm film stocks. Direct printing techniques will highlight the use of pre-exposed and printed film, plant materials and various objects and forms serving as "image" sources. Participants will learn about the history of cyanotype, techniques for making their own cyanotype chemistry, as well as how to source and use simple pre-made and off-the-shelf chemistry solutions. The workshop will enable participants to easily translate the process into a home lab environment, while encouraging the use of recycled or outdated film stocks, minimal photochemistry and inexpensive exposure equipment for immediate, accessible cameraless filmmaking experimentation.

About Our Cinema

Our intimate, 40-seat cinema is able to host a range of presentations by contemporary artists working in film, video, sound, music, multimedia and performance. Our focus is primarily on experimental and artist-made.


Tickets for all events are available on-line pre-show as well as at the door (unless otherwise noted). Information and links are posted under each program event listing. Please note: we only honor tickets purchased directly from Shapeshifters.

Venue Specs

Find out more about our venue.


View Past Programs


We are working on scheduling more great workshops for you. Sign up on our mailing list and be the first to know about them!

About Our Workshops

Our workshops emphasize a DIY approach to art-making. Each one is taught by a different guest artist who shares practical, hands-on lessons in a variety of media and creative practices using materials and resources you probably already have, or are otherwise easy to acquire. Learn something new or enhance your own established art practice. Everyone is welcome!


View Past Workshops


The Shapeshifters shop features an eclectic range of DVDs, books, CDs and other artist-made items. Browse the selection here

Browse the full selection

Suki O'Kane 2020

Suki O'Kane, August 16 2020, at Shapeshifters Cinema

John Davis 2020

John Davis, September 20, 2020, at Shapeshifters Cinema

Killer Banshee 2020

Killer Banshee, September 13, 2020, at Shapeshifters Cinema

Ether Ship 2020

Ether Ship, January 11, 2020 at Shapeshifters Cinema


Elena Pardo, December 6, 2019 at Shapeshifters Cinema


Lynne Sachs, November 10, 2019 at Shapeshifters Cinema


Minoosh Zomorodinia, October 13, 2019 at Shapeshifters Cinema


Jeremy Rourke, September 20, 2019 at Shapeshifters Cinema



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Word is out! The Shapeshifters universe is expanding! In January 2023, we took over the cafe next door to our cinema and brewery. We've been slowly working on fixing it up since then to fold it into the Shapeshifters vision. In the meantime, the kitchen is in full swing! We've got all kinds of seasonal and freshly-made sandwiches and salads, locally-roasted coffee drinks, house-blended teas, pastries (made both in-house and by local phenom Firebrand Bakery) and breakfast items, including our very popular breakfast burrito. We are currently open Monday-Friday from 6am-3pm. Check out our full menu. All items are available for dine-in, take-out or delivery. You can also follow us on Instagram where we post weekly specials and other fun things @shapeshifterscafe.

KQED article

In the wake of SFMOMA's announcement to cut its historically-significant and beloved film program, KQED journalist Sarah Hotchkiss wrote a great article looking at how this affects the over-all ecology of the Bay Area film culture and the film programs and microcinemas (including Shapeshifters) that continue to cultivate it. Read the article here.

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Jack London Improvement District awards funds to Shapeshifters for our merch expansion!
Due to restrictions brought on by the global pandemic and for the safety of our community, we shut down for over a year... but we did not stop! In addition to livestreaming artists' work and hosting artist-led workshops, we opened a retail shop online. We are expanding and building out a shop at our venue with the help of funds provided by the Jack London Improvement District (BID). The funds will go towards building a wall of shelves and stocking up on artists books, records, DVDS, CDs, unique works of art, and handmade goods. Check out the announcement and the full list of award winners.

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Shapeshifters receives an Oakland CARES grant!
We are very grateful to have received a grant through the Oakland CARES Fund for Artists and Arts Non-Profits, made possible by the city of Oakland Economic & Workforce Development Department, Cultural Affairs Division and administered by Center for Cultural Innovation. These funds ensure that we can continue our (modified) operations during these challenging and uncertain times.

Thank you to all of our donors & funders
We rely on individual donations to support artists and operate our cinema. We are immensely grateful for their contributions. View the list of donors

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