Dance, nature and humanitarian work: tech and art collide in drone film festival

In San Francisco, a once beacon of art — and now beacon of technology — the two fields have come together at the Flying Robot International Film Festival.

Thursday night’s film festival at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco’s Mission district showcased the best of the best videos. 153 videos were submitted to the festival, and 20 were selected for the final showcase.

These aren’t the thousands of 5 minute videos of someone’s backyard that you’ve seen too many of on YouTube. The entries screened at the festival were the best out there in both production and creativity.

The winner of the Cinematic Category, “Running Into the Air” is a scenic tour of Switzerland, but it’s set apart by a clever opening scene of what looks like someone running to take off for a flight over the country.   And the audience laughed hysterically at Bart Jansen’s cat copter, the video that made waves across the Internet after Bart Jansen turned his dead cat Orville into a taxidermy drone. That was, until the ostrich-copter came out, and the audience erupted.

The film festival showcased technological advancements too. Bay Area drone startup PRENAV showed precision technology in a video of laser party drones that spell out “Hello World.”

“Drones for Good” category winner highlights the volunteer organization Syria Airlift Project and their work to eventually deliver supplies to Syrian people who have been besieged and deprived of food and medicine.

“This week a lot of people have been thinking about Syria and about ISIS,” the project’s creator Mark Jacobsen said in his award acceptance speech. “Every filmmaker has a role in bringing out the goodness and humanity in any situation. I hope our project inspires you to do good things in your own lives.”

Here is the complete list of finalists, runner-ups and winners.

**=winner; *=runner-up

Cinematic: Postcard

  • Micro San Francisco: Matthew Coakley, USA
  • SATLAPSE: Jamie Brightmore, UK
  • Running into the Air: Sebastian Woeber, Austria**
  • Teahupo-o Du Ciel: Eric Sterman, USA*
  • Fire and Ice: Christian Linares, USA

Drones for Good

  • Wings Over Darien: James Cameron Ellis, USA*
  • Watefly: M Nyhan, USA
  • The Syria Airlift Project: Jessie Mooberry, USA**

Student Film

  • Electric Africa: Quinn Muller, USA**
  • Butterfly: Ryan Rizzo, Canada*

I Made That!

  • Chocolate Copter: Michael Niedermayr, Austria*
  • Compilation: Bart Jansen, Netherlands**


  • Hello World: Nathan Schuett, USA**
  • Targeted Advertising: Mitchell Rose, USA*

Cinematic: Narrative

  • Zombie vs. Drone: Marque Cornblatt, USA
  • My forest: Sebastien Pins, Belgium*
  • Capbreton Knife Club: Thomas Guerrin, France
  • All Away: Colin Solal Cardo, France**


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