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!

COMING UP (2/22/24): A/V Club
On tap: Öakschland lager & Tliltic black lager

A/V Club is less a club and more a chill hang for folks who want to meet and share film/video/sound/music projects in progress, or recently completed projects—open screening-style. Bring something to show, or just come to watch some cool work, meet some new people and join in conversation.


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.


Upcoming Programs & Events

Our Voices in Reverse, Nadia Shihab

Gravitational Lensing - Prequel Screening & Fundraiser
Sunday, March 3, 2024
Admission: $10-100 sliding scale

March is Women's History month! And we are kicking off this month's programming with a stellar screening of films made over the past 50 years that speak to a spectrum of women's issues including mother-child relationships, mental health and self-determination.

This very special screening will include the films Schmeerguntz (1965) by Gunvor Nelson & Dorothy Wiley, Anything You Want to Be (1971) by Liane Brandon, Women and Children at Large (1973) by Freude, Killing Time (1979) by Fronza Woods, Artificial Paradise (1986) by Chick Strand, Chronicles of a Lying Spirit by Kelly Gabron (1992) by Cauleen Smith, Noa, Noa (2006) by Lynne Sachs, Our Voices in Reverse (2013) by Nadia Shihab, The Way Light Keeps its Shadow (working title/WIP) by Vanessa Woods and Edge of Alchemy (2017) by Stacey Steers.

We will also have a raffle for prizes including DVDs, rare books, handmade art and more! All proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the forthcoming series Gravitational Lensing: Feminist Film Dialogues, that we will be launching at Shapeshifters beginning in April.

Many thanks to the filmmakers and to Canyon Cinema, Pacific Film Archive and Women Make Movies for loaning films for this event! Thank you also to Kathy Geritz, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, Steve Anker, Steve Polta, Lydia Greer, Lisa Mezzacappa and Patricia Ledesema Villon for their generous donations of items for raffle.

MAKE A DONATION: If you are unable to attend this screening but would like to donate to support the Gravitational Lensing series, you can do so on our donation page. Any and all amounts are greatly appreciated!

promotional image still from "Our Voices in Reverse" by Nadia Shihab

Jocelyne Saab

Fundraiser for Palestine - Lifting the Veil: Palestine in Jocelyne Saab’s Cinema
Sunday, March 10, 2024
Admission: $10-100, sliding scale

Please join us for our second fundraiser to support the people of Palestine during this terrifying time of seige. This screening was organized by filmmakers and film scholars, Amy Reid and Raed Rafei.

Jocelyne Saab (1948-2019) was a Lebanese filmmaker who dedicated a large part of her career to struggles for self-determination in places like Palestine, Western Sahara and Kurdistan. Between 1974 and 1982, she made a dozen films centered around Palestinians during the Lebanese civil conflict including women resistance fighters, the situation in refugee camps and Israeli invasions of Southern Lebanon. Moving between a journalistic approach and an essayistic, personal style, Saab captured moments that were central to the experience of Palestinians in Lebanon, notably the 1982 siege of Beirut, the departure of the fedayeen from Lebanon and the exile of Arafat and other PLO leaders aboard the Greek cruise ship Atlantis.

Screening: The Palestinian Women (1974), Children of the War (1976), South Lebanon (History of a Besieged Village) (1976), Beirut, my city (1982) and The Ship of Exile (1982). Newly restored 16mm films will be screened as HD video files, provided by the Jocelyne Saab Association.

WARNING: Some of the films we will be screening contain distressing images of war.

The screening will be followed by a discussion moderated by Lebanese film scholar and maker Raed Rafei.

All proceeds will be donated to Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA for Peace).

DONATE TO MECA: If you are unable to attend this screening, but would like to make a direct donation to MECA, or if you would like to make an additional donation, you can do so here.

Marcia Bassett & Samara Lubelski

Improvised Electronic Music w/Thomas Dimuzio, Marcia Bassett & Samara Lubelski + Barry Weisblat
Saturday, March 16, 2024
Admission: $12

Two sets of improvised music by local and visiting musicians.

Bay Area-based Thomas Dimuzio will present improvised electronics on the Buchla 200 series Electric Music Box.

NY-based improvised drone duo Marcia Bassett (guitar) and Samara Lubelski (violin) will explore drones and wavering frequencies with violin, guitar, and electronics, accompanied by color slide gel projection visuals by Barry Weisblat.

This Room is Nothing Without You

This Room is Nothing Without You - Experimental and Expanded Animation
Saturday, March 23, 2024
Admission: $10-100 sliding scale (proceeds to support humanitarian aid in Gaza)

This Room is Nothing Without You is a program of experimental and expanded animation works by Bay Area artists Meghana Bisineer, Lydia Greer, Kathleen Quillian & Jeremy Rourke that was originally going to be presented as part of Bay Area Now 9 cinema programming. In light of YBCA’s response to the eight BAN9 artists’ Love Letter to Gaza protest action on February 15, 2024, the collective has withdrawn from participating in YBCA’s programming and have instead decided to share the work and conversations at Shapeshifters Cinema with proceeds going towards humanitarian aid in Gaza.

The artists have also chosen to include a selection of animations by other artists whose works both resonate with their own and that also speak to critical issues of the day. The program will conclude with a conversation between the artists and curators Kathleen Maguire and Gina Basso.

Promotional image still by Meghana Bisineer

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. Programming will begin in April. Stay tuned!

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

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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