Rachel Caplan: Charting New Paths In Film Curation

When Rachel Caplan graduated from college with a degree in art history, she had no idea what direction she wanted to take her life. When she was offered an internship with the Edinburgh Film Festival, however, that’s when the doors began to open. Her successful summer internship was extended into a year long engagement, which then evolved into a full time position.

It was while working with Edinburgh, the world’s oldest and longest running film festival, that Rachel caught was she describes as the ‘festival bug’. What does Rachel love most about her career? “The inspiring thing for me is that moment when the credits roll, the lights come up, and there’s this ‘aha’ moment when the conversations begin. That’s the moment when you understand how the film really connected with the audience.”

Rachel Caplan

Rachel later went on to work for the London Film Festival, and took a job in film publicity which brought her to Cannes & Berlin. Eight years ago she accepted a position with the San Francisco Film Society, relocating from Europe to the Bay Area.

While in her new home, Rachel began to be involved with the Ocean Film Festival, her first step towards uniting her love of film with a passion for protecting the environment. After several years of seeing submissions roll in that addressed many issues indirectly impacting the oceans, such as deforestation or pollution, Rachel began to realize that there was a need to develop a platform for larger environmental issues.

“Two things we do really well here in San Francisco are independent film and environmental awareness,” says Rachel, and so she took the initiative to bring these two worlds together, launching the inaugural year of the San Francisco Green Film Festival in 2011. After two successful years, the Rachel and her team are already planning a third season for the festival in March 2013.

“I think films are an incredibly powerful medium,” says Rachel. “We can read about environmental issues or social justice issues in the newspaper, we can see reports on TV, but it’s the immersive quality of film, when the audience gets to spend time with characters in different parts of the world, that has such a powerful effect on audiences.”

“Responses to the films we screen at the San Francisco Green Film Festival vary from shocked and horrified to deeply inspired. Audiences leave motivated to take actions. This is why the Adobe Youth Voices program is so important, not just to get cameras into the hands of young people, but to give them tools to craft stories, have a voice and play a role in inspiring change.”

Rachel contributed her talent to the Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards, helping to judge the documentary film category. The winners will be announced on June 18th!