Topanga Film Institute (TFI), a 501[c]3 charitable organization, exists to inspire, inform and interconnect a community of filmmakers and content creators, to foster global connections, to facilitate dialogue and to explore new frontiers of technology and storytelling to advance humanity. TFI was founded by Urs Baur and his wife Sara Baur Harding in 2011 as the parent for the TFF and as a way to bring year-round events, programming workshops, mentoring and networking opportunities to the community.




The Topanga Film Institute holds the annual Topanga Film Festival (since 2004), which includes screenings, workshops, panels, mixers, and other events to present work that is courageous, innovative, and that inspires action. We endeavor to bridge cultures, and provide networking opportunities to our local and extended community.

Nominated as “one of the 25 coolest film festivals in the world” by Filmmaker Magazine, the acclaimed Topanga Film Festival is now in its 12th year, and programs short and feature films that challenge convention and tell stories that inspire new and original ways of seeing and understanding the world.

The unique open air film festival takes place in Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Los Angeles, and is frequented by the California film and music industry, artists, environmentalists, technologists, activists, foodies, and the eccentric Topangan community, providing a unique opportunity to enjoy a wealth of international and local content that ranges from creative to educationally empowering.

The Topanga Film Festival (TFF) was founded by Sara Baur Harding and her husband Urs Baur. The first TFF was held in their backyard in 2004. Over the years countless volunteers have stepped up to bring this 100% volunteer based event to the community year after year.


Co-Lab is a new creative workspace in Topanga for storytellers, visionaries and the creative community to meet, work and collaborate in a unique environment. Please contact the TFI for information about available space.


Both literally and symbolically on the other side of the mountains from Hollywood, Topanga Canyon has long had a firm reputation for being a unique place – a traditional hotbed of counter-culture and a refuge for rebels, ranging from outlaws, artists, actors, celebrities, producers, musicians, creatives, seekers and thinkers in a wide variety of fields, drawn to the region’s wild beauty, authenticity and sense of community.

This unique community in a spectacularly beautiful setting provides an atmosphere and an experience you will not find anywhere else in the world.

Welcome to Topanga!

Overlooking Los Angeles with neighboring Silicon Beach, and a stone’s throw from Hollywood – yet worlds removed – Topanga is historically, geographically and philosophically perfectly situated to gather today’s most forward-thinking individuals to explore and develop storytelling in both traditional and emerging forms of media.

Fun facts about Topanga:

Jim Morrison allegedly wrote the lyrics to Roadhouse Blues while driving down Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Neil Young recorded most of his iconic album After the Gold Rush in the basement of his Topanga home in 1970. Topanga State Park is one of the largest open space preserves surrounded by a city in the world. Topanga Canyon is featured as a location in numerous pop culture references, including HBO’s Six Feet Under, Boy Meets World, the bestselling novel “Tortilla Curtain” and legendary singer/songwriter Billy Joel’s “Getting Closer.”

Many famous people have made Topanga Canyon their home, including Neil Young, Chris Robinson, Billy Preston, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills, Bernie Leadon of the Eagles and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Don Felder of the Eagles, Gram Parsons, Jim Morrison and John Densmore of the Doors, Mick Fleetwood, Spanky McFarland,  Richie Hayward and Fred Tackett of Little Feat, Big Joe Turner, Alice Cooper, Van Morrison, Sissy Spacek, Louis Gossett Jr., Emile Hirsch, Viggo Mortensen, Lisa Bonet, Teri Garr, Wendie Malick, Keith Carradine, Luke Wilson, Ricky Schroder, Dennis Hopper, Amber Tamblyn, Lynn Redgrave, Andy Dick, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Bertolt Brecht, Carole Lombard, Shirley Temple, Johnny Weissmuller, Mickey Rooney, Tia Carrere and Ida Lupino. and many more. 


Support the Topanga Film Institute! The Topanga Film Institute is a a tax-exempt, non-profit organization funded entirely through its activities, by grants and individual donations. Your tax-deductible donation supports developing our new creative workspace, our programs and the Topanga & environs creative community.