THE CHRISTOPHER B. SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER may well be the most elegant and comfortable place on the planet to enjoy great films and see some of the world’s leading filmmakers.

The Rafael is owned and operated by the California Film Institute, the non-profit arts organization that also produces the annual Mill Valley Film Festival and ongoing CFI Education programs. It houses three state-of-the-art auditoriums, offers a lively and diverse schedule of first-run engagements, including independent, foreign-language and documentary films, and welcomes frequent presentations by artists and experts in the field.


“The Rafael has been beautifully restored and has now become a magic house for cinema.”

David LynchWriter / Director

“There is such a refreshing sense of community and intimacy that is so hard to find these days within the world of cinema…I look forward to my next experience.”

Alejandro González IñárrituWriter / Director

“I was so honored by your and your audience’s inspiring company and enthusiasm…This event was the highlight of this year and it gave me so much strength to continue the work on my next film.”

Jan TroellWriter / Director

“It’s a great theater! And the audience was terrific—no doubt because of the theater!”

Peter BogdanovichWriter / Director

“I will remember this amazing and warm welcome in the Rafael that these beautiful movie goers gave.”

Javier BardemActor

“The Rafael is one of the most beautiful cinemas I have been in. A true ‘cathedral of images’ as Fellini would say.”

Walter SallesWriter / Director

“The Rafael has been a lovely venue for my presentations about visual effects and stop-motion animation.”

Ray HarryhausenSpecial Effects Pioneer

“[The Rafael] was where I saw my first motion picture…Thank you for nurturing the memory and the future.”

David StrathairnActor

“You have created a space that will certainly endure for years to come- Enjoy the process and continue this wondrous journey of quality.”

Diane BakerActor / Producer

“The Rafael’s audiences are perhaps the most responsive cinema-goers in the world”

Philip NoyceDirector

“What a beautiful theater—such an incredible restoration.”

Rachel WeiszActor

“What a fitting end to my tour celebrating Michael Powell’s centenary- to be in the beautiful Rafael amongst those who love Michael’s work and who in turn showed me such warm affection.”

Jack Cardiff (1914-2009)Cinematographer / Director

“We always bring our films here because the venue and the audiences are the best.”

Ron YerxaProducer

“This is a great theater, great facility and great projection.”

Ang LeeDirector

“We wish all theaters were this beautiful with such receptive audiences.”

Valerie FarisWriter / Director

“I wish this theater were in my neck of the woods.”

Sam ElliottActor

“I love your movie theater.”

Harriet AndersonActor