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
Rooney Hwang - Administration Assistant


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, women-identifying, and non-binary 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 paired with other works made by women, women-identifying and non-binary filmmakers from across the space-time continuum and curated into programs that will be exhibited at Shapeshifters in 2024. Find out more and submit your work!

Upcoming Programs & Events

Happy Hour records

Thursday Night Happy Hour
Thursday, October 5, 2023
Free admission

Join us this Thursday from 5-9PM for the next Thursday Night Happy Hour! We will be serving Ice Cold Popcorn Ale and Farm to Cinema brown ale on tap as well as a limited menu of beer-friendly delectables. We will be spinning records from our extensive and eclectic collection of LPs all night! Our storefront shop will also be open during this time if you want to buy some merch or beers to go.

Peggy Ahwesh

New shorts by Peggy Ahwesh
Friday, November 3, 2023
Admission: $10 (discount for members)

Peggy Ahwesh will be joining us to present a selection of new video works that move from the magic of the night sky to the geopolitics of the midwest to the antics of transgressive women. The program is centered on Lies and Excess, a fragment of an unfinished film shot in dingy Atlantic City that was abandoned as a partial rough cut. Looking at it years later, it somehow seemed a 'perfect film' and a sly comment on film construction, storytelling and the lives of women. In Kansas Atlas, we see a bird’s eye view of the landscape of Kansas—the heartland and geographical center of the US—with its unnerving blend of austere beauty and reactionary politics. Together, these provide a look at the contradictory nature of humans in the pursuit of truth, purpose and pleasure.

Peggy will also be at Pacific Film Archive on Wednesday, November 1st to present OR119, a recent film made in collaboration with Jackie Goss. This program is part of PFA's Alternative Visions series.

Vanderlip, Diaries & Destruction

Diaries and Destruction: Films by Ellie Vanderlip and Influences, 1979-2023
Friday, November 10, 2023
Admission: $12 (discount for members)

Diving into both her diary films and found footage manipulations from the past five years, this program of Ellie Vanderlip's latest work includes 16mm investigations on the intersections of infrastructure, climate change, and misogyny, and well as a cohort of digital diary films about memory and identity connected to land as a "Californian". Vanderlip also programs key works of influence from Chick Strand, Lynne Sachs, and Greta Snider that demonstrate the power of the female filmmaker as diarist and détourneuse in reclaiming female narratives.

Ross Lipman

Ross Lipman: Between Two Cinemas
Friday, November 17, 2023
Admission: $10 (discount for members)

Between Two Cinemas is something beyond category: at once an original essay film unveiling previously unseen archival material on Stan Brakhage and Andrei Tarkovsky, and an anthology of short films featuring new collaborations with visionary experimentalist Bruce Baillie, Jeanne Dielman cinematographer Babette Mangolte, Bela Tarr composer Mihaly Vig and synthesizer pioneer Patrick Gleeson. It's also a new spin on the artist's talk, documenting filmmaker/archivist Ross Lipman's winding path between classic international cinema and the American avant-garde. In this riveting but completely unclassifiable work, he looks back at a life in the cinema and an elusive divide at the heart of it.

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


Upcoming Workshops

Thingamajigs, Kirk Pearson

Build Your Own Synthesizer
Instructor: Kirk Pearson
Saturday, October 14, 2023
In-person at Shapeshifters Cinema
Admission: $10-20, sliding scale

Ever wanted to build a synthesizer? In this beginner's workshop, organized by Thingamajigs and led by Kirk Pearson (founder and director of the Berkeley-based audio laboratory Dogbotic) participants will be led through the process step-by-step, demystifying the horrible world of electrical engineering at every turn. You'll learn how to build basic oscillators, filters, LFOs, and amplifiers, how to rig up your circuit to be light-sensitive, and oh-so-much more. Each participant will make their own working synth prototype, which we'll tune together to form a delicious sound bath. You'll then get to take your prototype home and use it to impress and irritate your friends and loved ones. All parts are included, no prior circuitry experience or musical ability needed.

Thingamajigs, David Samas

Make a Skatchbox
Instructor: David Samas
Saturday, November 11, 2023
In-person at Shapeshifters Cinema
Admission: $10-20, sliding scale

Skatch is the art of rubbing shaped combs over cardboard surfaces with a variety of items affixed to it issuing a range of weird and wild sounds which defy descriptions. Skatch is freeing—an improvised music with no wrong sounds—unapologetically distanced from all notions of craft and skill. It is fun for everyone, regardless of their perceived musicianship.

Join David Samas in making these one-of-a-kind percussion instruments designed by the late Tom Nunn. David was Tom’s studio assistant for a decade and pioneered outreach and education to adults and youth through Thingamajigs, building skatchboxes with hundreds of people all over California.

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



Nosh logo

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.

city-of-oakland logo

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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