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San Francisco Transgender Film Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary!

Posted on November 10, 2017

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San Francisco Transgender Film Festival was the first festival of its kind in North America. This landmark festival—which promotes transgender and gender-variant visibility, culture and community through its quality films—has been educating and engaging audiences for two decades. Recently, the San Francisco Bay Times sat down with San Francisco Transgender Film Festival (SFTFF) Artistic Director Shawna Virago, to discuss the upcoming 20thAnniversary 2017 SFTFF, November 10–12 at the Roxie Theater.

San Francisco Bay Times: Congratulations! This is the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival 20th Anniversary, which is quite an accomplishment. What can we expect this year?

Shawna Virago: This November 10–12, SFTFF celebrates its 20th Anniversary festival with three days and nights of transgender and gender non-conforming films at the Roxie Theater. The festival will feature inspiring documentaries, jaw dropping animation, hard hitting short films, and gender and genre-busting experimental films. As always, all genders are welcome!

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San Francisco Bay Times: What will be some of the highlights for you at this year’s festival?

Shawna Virago: I’m proud that we’re still here and more vibrant than ever. SFTFF is the world’s first and longest-running international Transgender film festival. We were founded in 1997, and so for years, we have had to survive and thrive on our transgender smarts, sweat and love from the community. I’m proud of all our programs this year, especially our closed-captioned-for-Deaf-and-hard-of hearing audiences program on Saturday, November 11, at 9 pm, which I think is a very strong program.

This year we’re thrilled to screen a new Macy Gray music video, Stop Drop Roll. It stars gender-fluid choreographer Jenzi Russell and is part of our opening night screening, Friday, November 10, at 8 pm. Also, part of our opening night screening is The Gold Fish Casino, a queer musical that tells the story of a plucky salmon forced by a lack of water to gamble her eggs to get upstream. It’s a timely statement about the ongoing destruction of the environment and is directed by Sarolta Jane Vay, whose work exemplifies a commitment to social justice. But all of the programs are strong, and people should come out and see them!

San Francisco Bay Times: Were there any unique challenges this year?

Shawna Virago: We had a record number of strong submissions. It was hard for the team to select only a fraction of them.

San Francisco Bay Times: What motivates you and your team to do this film festival?

Shawna Virago: We were founded in DIY and anti-oppression principals, and we are committed to have SFTFF provide a counter-narrative to the increasingly assimilationist world of transgender reality stars and celebrities. Hollywood gets it wrong—very wrong. Come see trans and gender-variant people telling our own stories. Come see trans characters played by trans actors.

San Francisco Bay Times: Just for you personally, what needs to happen this year for you to consider this experience a success?

Shawna Virago: I want to share our great programs with our communities. I believe gathering in community and sharing art and supporting each other are very important right now, given the ongoing attacks against our rights from the overt supporters of white supremacy, transphobia and racism that are running the national government.

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San Francisco Bay Times: How has SFTFF changed from its inception?

Shawna Virago: We were started in 1997 by two friends of mine, Christopher Lee and Alex Austin. I was brought in as part of the team in 2003. When we started, funders and most film festivals would not support transgender film festivals or filmmakers, so I am very proud of our history of advocating for the rights of trans and gender non-conforming film makers.

San Francisco Bay Times: Anything you’d like to add?

Shawna Virago: Although I look forward to the next twenty years for SFTFF, I want people to come out November 10–12 and help us celebrate our milestone 20th Anniversary!

The entire SFTFF lineup can be found at www.SFTFF.com

20th Anniversary San Francisco Transgender Film Festival (SFTFF)

November 10–12

Roxie Theater at 3117 16th Street @ Valencia, San Francisco

Tickets: $12–15 sliding scale

www.SFTFF.com

(READ THE ONLINE ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE)


2016 SFTFF Save the Date Trailer!

Posted on November 10, 2016

The 2016 San Francisco Transgender Film Festival will take place at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, CA, USA November 10-13, 2016. For venue, program and schedule information, visit SFTFF’s website (www.SFTFF.org) starting October 1, 2016. In the meantime, join our email list to receive updates: sign up at www.SFTFF.org.

PROGRAMS

November 10 Roxie Theater: 8:00pm Opening Night Gala
November 11 Roxie Theater: 8:00pm
November 12 Roxie Theater: 7:00pm & 9:30pm (9:30pm is 18 years+)
November 13  Roxie Theater: 2:00pm and 4:00pm


Filmmaker Spotlight: Anand Jay Kalra

Posted on November 2, 2016

SFTFF: What is the name of your film?

AK: Call and Response

SFTFF: What was the inspiration for your film?

AK: After my grandmother passed away earlier this year, I found a voicemail she left me while I was driving cross-country to move back to California in 2012. She mistakenly thought she’d hung up after saying goodbye, but the recording went on to reveal her explaining to a friend of hers who I am and that I’m trans– all in Hindi. All my life, she challenged me to commit myself to a path of nonviolence and service, but she never quite saw my work in the trans community as falling under that umbrella. Call and Response pairs her challenge with the voices of five trans men, who reflect on the meaning and purpose of privilege and community responsibility.

SFTFF: Describe your film in 3 words.

AK: meditative, pastoral, borderlands

SFTFF: What is one thing you learned from making your film?

AK: While we were shooting the interviews, my camera kept overheating and disrupting the recording process, so we would have to stop recording to let the camera cool off and then start again. On top of that, the camera didn’t have an audio input, so we were recording the sound separately. I ended up with 4-6 video files and 2-3 audio files per interivew, which I had to line up before I could edit. Definitely learned my ounce-of-prevention lesson for recording audio and video together!

SFTFF: If your film had to be summed up in one song, what song would it be?

AK: Shankar Tucker’s “Dhuan Dhuan”

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STILL FROM “CALL AND RESPONSE”
DIRECTED BY ANAND JAY KALRA
Screening on Sunday, November 13 at 2pm at The Roxie Theater.
Purchase Tickets Here

 



Filmmaker Spotlight: Daniel Chavez

Posted on October 21, 2016

SFTFF: What is the name of your film?

DC: El cisne (The swan)

SFTFF: What was the inspiration for your film?

DC: I was inspired to tell the story of Sthefany because I wanted to make a film about immigration. Immigration most of the times is caused by economic interests, however there are also other powerful reasons to leave your home country. In the case of Sthefany it was because she was discriminated for her sexual orientation and her gender identity. The discrimination was unbearable, so she decided to migrate to a country in which she could be her true self. Sthefany’s life relates to many other trans Latina women so I felt I needed to tell her story.

SFTFF: Describe your film in 3 words.

DC: Family, acceptance, and immigration.

SFTFF: What is one thing you learned from making your film?

DC: Stay true to who you are. Valuable people will love you no matter what.

SFTFF: If your film had to be summed up in one song, what song would it be?

DC: ‘El cisne’ by Agustín Lara.

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Still from “El Cisne”
Directed by Daniel Chavez
Screening on Sunday, November 13 at 2pm at The Roxie Theater.
Purchase Tickets Here

 


Filmmaker Spotlight: TW Pittman & Kelly Daniela Norris

Posted on October 19, 2016
SFTFF: What is the name of your film?

TWP + KDN: Nakom

SFTFF: What was the inspiration for your film?

TWP + KDN: To tell an unseen but human story about obligation, desire, and the roles we perform to survive.

SFTFF: Describe your film in 3 words.

TWP + KDN: globalization, humanism, #villagelyfe

SFTFF: What is one thing you learned from making your film?

TWP + KDN: Specificity is the best way to speak to the universal.

SFTFF: If your film had to be summed up in one song, what song would it be?

TWP + KDN: Odetta – Another Man Done Gone

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Still from “NAKOM”
Directed by TW Pittman & Kelly Daniela Norris
Screening on Sunday, November 13 at 4pm at The Roxie Theater.
Purchase Tickets Here

 


Filmmaker Spotlight: Penelope Spheeris

Posted on October 17, 2016

SFTFF: What is the name of your film?

PS: “I Don’t Know”

SFTFF: What was the inspiration for your film?

PS: Back in the early 70s two of my best friends were transgender and they were the most fun people I had ever met. I was in film school at the time, had cameras at easy access and decided to make a film about them. Gender identity movies were few and far between back then.

SFTFF: Describe your film in 3 words.

PS: I Don’t Know

SFTFF: What is one thing you learned from making your film?

PS: The one thing I learned from reading this film was that people were not very open-minded to the idea of gay, lesbian or transgender lifestyles. I was greatly criticized for dealing with the subject matter…. Which of course, encouraged me to do another film on the same subject matter: “Hats Off to Hollywood.”

SFTFF: If your film had to be summed up in one song, what song would it be?

PS: “I Want to Break Free” by Queen

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Still from “I Don’t Know”
Directed by Penelope Spheeris
Screening on Saturday, November 12 at 9:30pm at The Roxie Theater.
Purchase Tickets Here

 




Filmmaker Spotlight: Joe Ippolito

Posted on October 28, 2014

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SFTFF: What is the name of your film?

JI: Growing Old Gracefully: The Transgender Experience.

SFTFF: What was the inspiration for your film?

JI: When I turned 40, I looked around and thought, “man, I don’t feel prepared for growing older.” Then, I started talking to other trans people, and many of them felt the same way. Upon further investigation, many of the challenges faced by trans and gender non-conforming people, as they grow older, started to become clear. At that point I thought, what can I do to start the process of educating others about this? Because Gender Reel, the film festival I founded, was already in full swing, I figured making a film would be the most direct process possible. Thus GOG was born.

SFTFF: Descrive your film in 3 words.

JI: Informative, Interesting and Scary.

SFTFF: What is one thing you learned from making your film?

JI: How to be a filmmaker. I had no idea going in what this process entailed, and I learned a ton about the filmmaking process.

SFTFF: If your film had to be summed up in one song, what song would it be?

JI: “Heros” by David Bowie.