4th Queer Women of Color Film Festival in San Francisco

The Queer Women of Color Film Festival is probably one of the most unique festivals for queer women out there. Here we can definitely take note of the new directions of filmmaking each year as each filmmaker comes to terms with the latest in technology for low budget production. Out of a series of scripts and a desire to make movies, several women tell their story with passion, dedication and purpose. The event is free and held at the Brava Theater in the Mission district of San Francisco. Directors Madeline Lim and T Kebo Drew run an excellent venue. In essence, the festival is a training ground for filmmakers, and once the film wraps it becomes part of the festival. In QWOCMAP's training program filmmakers are on a strict schedule to produce an intimate and relevant project to their own lives. They are guided by the award winning filmmaker Lim, and act and serve as crew in each other's films. Community partners include Pink and White Productions, which helped to host the Sunday afternoon "Sexually Subversive" centerpiece screening, and Trikone , a non profit organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of South Asian descent. Sponsors include Linda Harris of the Harrison Team, a real estate agency which services the LGBT community. Harris is on the board of directors for Frameline.
There is a trained staff of volunteers that usher in the block long length of women, and if you are on time there is no problem with a seat. The tradition of the festival is to serve food, also free, to make everyone feel at home. The feedback that each filmmaker gets from her film is enough to keep the images rolling for a long time, for the crowd is generous and knows what it likes.
To celebrate this event, a representative of Mayor Gavin Newsom spoke about how the festival is appreciated and honored by the City of San Francisco. With the new passage of legalized marriage in California and a conservative backlash already in gear to try to defeat the measure in November, strong community action is underway to get people out to vote. According to the representative, "let's get the measure passed, then worry about deconstructing the institution of marriage". Right on. Activism is a key component to the Queer Women of Color Festival (QWOCMAP), with leaflets in the vestibule for signatures to Mayor Newsom, "I support having a city owned Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center in San Francisco", and to Governor Schwarzenegger, " I recently attended the QWOCMAP Film Festival that was part of the Unisted States of Asian America Festival and National Queer Arts Festival". In California, public support of the arts is 3 cents per person, whereas the national average is one dollar.

This year Pratibha Parmar was the special invited guest to the festival, a British Indian who was born in Kenya and grew up in London in a working class neighborhood. She never went to film school but has made several films, one of which won the public prize for the best film at the Créteil International Women's Film Festival - Khush, a film about gay and lesbians in South Asia, and those interviewed came out for the first time . "Khush" means "ecstatic pleasure" in Urdu.

Parmar was interviewed by the award-winning journalist Helen Zia, author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. Two other films were shown in a retrospective of Parmar's work: Bhangra Jig and Wavelengths. The films are archived by Women Make Movies in New York, an organization that rents films to schools and universities. Parmar noted the quality of the films on video and is planning on a DVD release of her work in the near future. Of particular interest is Parmar's latest film Nina's Heavenly Delight which has won several top awards at festivals in Fresno, Tampa and the Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival in Paris. Parmar plans to spend more time in the Bay Area with her partner of 16 years.

Programs were divided into three themes this year in addition to the special Sunday screening "Sexually Subversive": "Kindred Spirits", films about family relations, and "Delectably Yours", a pageant of films on food.
Highlights of some of the films this year include: Labels Are Forever (Jinky de Rivera, 2008).The opening titles reads like the introduction to Star Wars in this humorous saga about 007 Secret Agent J. Wong. Wong is sent by her boss to investigate how labels are used by a group of women only to discover that the assignment is bogus.

Luna Han takes a look at The Cock: Lesbian Owned & Operated (2008).

Han was also the better half in One in a Million by Monifa Porter (2008) a playful journey into the twists and turns of a lesbian fertility rite. If you click here you can see the festival's secret agent on duty.

Renacimiento de una bruja (Zemaya, 2008) is a spiritual oddyssey by a woman with the earth and her ancestors.

Queering My Mother (Lourdes Rivas, 2007) tells the story of mother that polices her daughter too much especially when she has met that special woman. As the title suggests, the evolution of awareness by the filmmaker's mother is at stake, and she does it in style.
Jagadamba, Mother of the Universe (Amber Field, 2008) is about a young South Korean woman comes to terms with her adoption in the USA while also questioning celebrities such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie who have adopted children from developing nations to give them better lives. The evolution of the young woman is traced as she comes to terms with being a lesbian and also a martial artist.

In Too Much Plain (Caroline Le, 2008) A young woman tries to figure out what's wrong with all her girlfriends with her best friend, only to discover that its because she wants to be more than best friends with her confidant.

A handful of the films were also shown at the Frameline32 LGBT Film Festival June 19-29 in a section called "Magical Promise", which is precisely what you can say about so many gifted directors at QWOCMAP.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the post. It is especially heartening to hear that something for queer people of color has managed to sustain itself over the years.

I programmed the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival for two years, and noticed that there seemed to be alot of work coming from the USA/Canada.

However still much less from the Europe and even less ironically from the UK. Pratibha stands out as still the only lesbian of colour to have made a feature film and have such an awesome body of work.

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