The Arab Film Festival (AFF), one of the largest independent showcases of Arab movies outside of the Arab world, is being kicked out of its San Francisco office months before it hosts its next festival, scheduled for Oct. 16-25 of this year.
The Prado Group, a privately held real estate development and investment management company based in San Francisco, purchased the building that houses the AFF's office nine months ago. The company has given the AFF until the end of August to move out.
The Prado Group didn't notify the AFF about how much its rent was going to increase, according to AFF executive director Serge Bakalian.
"When they called for a meeting, I was expecting them to say 'It's going to be two times your current rent,'" Bakalian said. "But they didn't even give us an option. They just said, 'Here's 60 days.' I asked for a couple months and to their credit, they did give us an extra month."
The Prado Group has yet to reply to KQED's request for comment.
The AFF was started in San Jose in 1996 with a mission to "enhance understanding of Arab culture and foster a space for independent Arab filmmakers to screen their work for the public." Since then, the AFF has expanded globally with satellite festivals in Berlin, London, San Diego and Los Angeles.
The AFF has operated in San Francisco since 2002 and has been located at its Mission District offices for the past six years.
Before receiving the eviction notice, the AFF had been planning to expand its staff from seven paid personnel to eight, and add two interns.
A crowd-funding campaign has been started to help keep the AFF in San Francisco.
This story will be updated with more details as it develops.