Jeff Ross is a cheerful champion of the underdog, the outsider, the gadfly, and the diehard. Even more than skill and vision, he admires the persistence needed to finish an independent film. He demonstrated that appreciation 15 years ago by launching the S.F. Independent Film Festival (held every February), followed in rapid succession by the S.F. Documentary Festival (unspooling this year Nov. 8-21), and that fervid hotbed of horror, dark comedy, and incipient cult classics, Another Hole in the Head Festival (Nov. 29-Dec. 5). In Ross' unwavering view, the star of the show is always the filmmaker, with the audience a close second. It's never the head honcho, which makes him an unusual figure on the circuit. His philosophy has a lot to do with the extraordinary loyalty and enthusiasm of the audiences, and the number of returning filmmakers. Ross' name may be at the top of the organizational chart — as if he has one — but he knows whom the festivals truly belong to.
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