Our History

The Oakland Film Society grew out of the production team of the film “Sydney Byrd, Private Eye” produced by the Roach brothers. “Sydney Byrd, Private Eye” took 30 days to shoot. We shot in 16 mm film in San Francisco and Oakland.  The first version edit took so long I can’t even recall as I write this. I do recall an early version edit we rushed to submit to the Sundance Film Festival. Some Film Festivals accepted our film. In between those screenings we rented out theaters, auditoriums, and reached out to the press and industry professionals to come out to see “Sydney Byrd, Private Eye.”

A highlight moment was having our film accepted into The Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. We contacted various executives in the area to come see it and had a good house. I recall experiencing a special moment. I sat in the audience with all these complete strangers who came to see our film.  Anyway, to sit in the audience, with knowledge of certain moments of the film and await the public’s reaction was thrilling to say the least. These above experiences, inspired us to create these type of opportunities for filmmakers in the beautiful city of Oakland, CA.

A few years later, we partnered with The Film Life in New York to host “Black Cinema Cafe in the Bay Area. Prior to including the Bay Area as a market to screen monthly films, Black Cinema Cafe was in five markets across the U.S. and grew to 12 including The Oakland Film Society representing the Bay Area.

The Black Cinema Cafe team consisted of Johnny Drake, Paula J. Harrell, Kwame Wade, Wayne Green and yours truly. We hosted monthly screenings for a few years until 9/11 hit New York and the sponsors presented by The Film Life.

By this time, the bug of hosting screenings had taken over our bodies. The only solution- start The Oakland International Film Festival. Since 2002, we have hosted the Oakland International Film Festival to support independent filmmakers and the stories they tell.

We look forward to seeing you in April 5-9, 2016 for the 14th Oakland International Film Festival.

Kind regards,

David N. Roach

Co-Founder / Director