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. In addition to regular, live events, we offer workshops on experimental moving image and sound production and a storefront shop specializing in print publications, sound recordings and other artist-made media. 


Gilbert Guerrero - Co-director
Kathleen Quillian - Co-director
Ellie Vanderlip - Workshop Coordinator/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.


Show nights only, currently. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, unless otherwise noted. Masks are required for entry.

Show Your Support

Make a donation to support Shapeshifters Cinema

Donations are tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, San Francisco Cinematheque, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.


Current and Upcoming Programs & Events

Cheryl Leonard Antarctica

Antarctica: Music from the Ice - Cheryl E. Leonard Performance and Record Release
Friday October 7, 2022
$10-25 sliding scale (advance tickets available on Eventbrite)
Masks are required for entry

Fizzy icebergs, kazooing penguins, glaciers that buzz and burble, snoring elephant seals, and sounds played live on penguin bones and limpet shells: join us to celebrate the release of Antarctica: Music from the Ice, the latest album by musician, composer and instrument builder Cheryl E. Leonard.

In 2009, Leonard spent five weeks at Palmer Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula as a participant in the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. At Palmer, she made field recordings of ice, water, wind, and wildlife, and gathered rocks, shells, and penguin bones, which she later fashioned into one-of-kind musical instruments. These sound sources are woven together into a set of compositions about the Antarctic Peninsula's dynamic environments and ecosystems, and the profound ways climate change is transforming the region. After 14 years of development, recordings of Leonard’s Antarctic compositions are finally available from Other Minds Records.

Leonard will give a short slideshow about her experiences working with sound at the bottom of the planet and will explain her compositional process, including field recording successes and defeats, instrument-building eureka moments, how to notate snappy icebergs, and techniques for playing penguin bones. This will be followed by a field recording listening session featuring several previously-unreleased recordings of Antarctic birds, ice, and seals. Next, Leonard will perform a solo set of several works from the album. Stick around after the music for informal Q & A and an Antarctic instrument petting zoo, where you can try your hand at making sounds on some of Leonard’s unique instruments.

Related workshop: Cheryl will also be leading a hands-on workshop on October 16th on exploring techniques for making and recording unusual sounds.

Thingamajigs, Redline Redefined

Thingamajigs: Redline Redefined Launch Party
Sunday, October 9, 2022
Free Admission
Masks are required for entry

Thingamajigs presents Redline Redefined, a new multi-year project that investigates, narrates and celebrates our formally red-lined neighborhoods. Thingamajigs has curated a program of audio and visual pieces designed to transport audiences from their home to the streets of Oakland and Berkeley. Featuring eight of the East Bay's most exciting performing artists, events scheduled include soundwalks, live performances, video narratives, poetry readings and an online interactive map. A diverse group of local artists are participating in the project, including Sudhu Tewari, Theresa Wong, Katy Luo, Ayodele Nzinga, Suki O’Kane, Gabby Wen, Maxi Himpe and Hallie Smith. Redlining is the systematic practice of denying people financial and other services based on where they lived. In the 1930s, the federal government carved The East Bay into a series of puzzle pieces--imaginary lines were drawn down streets, dividing neighborhoods, families, and entire populations of residents. Redline Redefined project artists explore the balance between the past and present and encourages all of us to to take a second look at who is included and excluded from conversations about development in modern-day East Bay. Join us for an exciting in-person launch filled with live performances, poetry readings, films, installations and short artist presentations.

Tomonori Nishikawa

Tomonori Nishikawa and Madison Brookshire
Saturday, November 5, 2022
Admission: $10 (Advance tickets available on eventbrite)
Masks are required for entry

Tomonori Nishikawa and Madison Brookshire join us from NY and LA respectively to present three 16mm film projector performances between them. Nishikawa will present the second variation of an on-going 16mm film projector performance piece, Six Seventy-Two Variations for which he uses a wood carving knife to scratch off the photographic emulsion of the looped film to produce images and sound as a live performance. Brookshire will present two double-projection performances, Double or Nothing and No. 3, 2022, which, in their own ways, accentuate idiosyncrasies inherent in running 16mm film through a projector.

About Our Cinema

Our intimate, 40-seat cinema is able to host a range of performances and events by contemporary artists working in film, video, sound, music, multimedia and performance. Along with screenings and performances, you will also find workshops, salons, artist talks and lectures. Our focus is primarily on experimental and artist-made.


View Past Programs


Our venue is available to rent for private events.
More about rentals


Upcoming Workshops

Cheryl Leonard instruments

Found Sound Workshop
Instructor: Cheryl Leonard
Sunday, October 16, 2022
In-person at Shapeshifters Cinema
Admission: $45
(Discount for Shapeshifters members)

Explore techniques for making and recording unusual sounds in this hands-on workshop led by composer/instrument-builder/field recordist Cheryl E. Leonard. Participants will learn about different types of microphones (including open-air, contact, underwater, and ultrasonic), and conventional and unconventional ways to use them for recording and in live performance. Together, we’ll experiment with a range of playing and miking techniques to uncover unique sounds from natural and manmade found objects, including sounds that are normally inaudible to the human ear. We’ll investigate approaches to playing materials/structures in situ, and assembling objects into “instruments.” Leonard will also share field recording tips and techniques honed from her experiences recording in wilderness areas around the world. All skill levels welcome! Register now.

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



Shapeshifters In the News

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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