Announcing the 25th Anniversary Festival Schedule!

Posted on October 17, 2022

For 25 years, SFTFF has screened films that promote the visibility of transgender and gender variant people and challenge the mainstream media’s negative stereotypes of our communities. We provide opportunities for transgender and gender variant media artists, build community through our film and performance events, and engage our audiences in cross-community dialogue.

This year, we’ve curated 7 brilliant programs featuring over 40 films, both in-person and online! All of our films are closed captioned.

Artist Spotlight: LeahAnn “Lafemmebear” Mitchell

Posted on November 13, 2021

LeahAnn “Lafemmebear”” Mitchell is the director of “Queen Tone aka BLACK RAGE.” Filmed entirely in a makeshift, plastic-covered room during COVID-19 quarantine, “Queen Tone aka BLACK RAGE” responds explosively to the constant demand for Black queer and trans women and femmes to ignore or set aside their anger, arguing that Black joy and Black rage are not, and must not, be mutually exclusive. Black rage is Black joy.

“Queen Tone aka BLACK RAGE” is part of Program 1 of the 2021 San Francisco Transgender Film Festival.

Artist Spotlight: Hunter Pixel Jimenez

Posted on November 11, 2021

Hunter Pixel Jimenez is the illustrator and protagonist of “To the Future, with Love” (directed by Shaleece Haas). Caught between the expectations of his Guatemalan immigrant family and his desire to live happily-ever-after with his boyfriend, 19-year-old Hunter “Pixel” Jimenez takes us on an energetic and colorful journey through his life as a nonbinary teen and his dreams for the future.

“To the Future, with Love” is part of Program 1 of the 2021 San Francisco Transgender Film Festival.

Filmmaker Spotlight: Elliot Montague

Posted on November 9, 2020

Elliot Mongtague

Director of “Light on a Path, Follow”

What inspired you to make “Light on a Path, Follow”? What were some challenges?

I’ve been interested in representations of queer and trans pregnancy for the last 15 years. I made an experimental short film (Well Dressed) in graduate school, but could find very little on the subject back then when conducting research. It’s exciting to start seeing more nuanced stories of trans pregnancy in the news and media. I’ve often aligned the desire to go on testosterone with the desire to be pregnant. There’s a very powerful thing that happens when you put something into your body and it then has the potential to change so rapidly – it’s magical. And for a trans person to have been on T and then come off of it and then get pregnant, that’s so powerful.

I wanted to tell a story of an older trans person who decides on their own to be pregnant in the mid 1990s. They have to tap into so much inner strength in order to make that decision, but they (as any pregnant person) only have so much control. That’s why I wanted to make this a ghost story – where the main character is haunted yet guided by this mysterious spirit. The spirit represents our (tr)ancestors, those who guide us from the past or perhaps the future. It makes me think about how we think about community. How even if somebody is “alone”, they are still in community with themselves and the beings they are bringing into the world, as well as in community with spirits around them.

The making of this film was challenging in that all narrative films with small budgets are hard to make. But this limited budget also opened doors and the people who worked on this were extremely dedicated, regardless of how they identified. (Though most of the crew identified as trans or queer, which was a priority of ours.) We were very intentional with who we brought on, we wanted a set that would be nourishing and healing for people to be a part of. We knew this film would not easily be legible to a lot of people, but we didn’t make a film with the priority of it being “legible”. We wanted to make a film that we had not yet seen.

What do you think of the current state of trans/gnc filmmaking? Could you talk about it in relation to mainstream media and LGBTQ+ media?

I think we are in an exciting moment with trans/gnc filmmaking both in representation and who is behind the camera and/or writing the stories. It is crucial that trans people are telling their own stories. We are aware of the many problematic representations of trans and non-binary characters in the history of film – often as villains or liars or who endured extreme violence (Silence of the Lambs, The Crying Game, Boys Don’t Cry.) Now with mainstream media/film, there is an effort for a more “positive” representations of trans characters, but often through assimilation into traditional modes of storytelling where the narrative is about the person’s transition and often played by cis actors (Transparent, The Danish Girl.) I’m specifically interested in and in conversation with other trans filmmakers and artists who are pushing beyond this surface trans visibility on screen, who often through fantasy, depict the spectral and/or trancestors as a way to visually engage with this idea of trans-temporality, such as Ester Martin Bergsmark, Tourmaline, and Wu Tsang.

Do you have any words for to young trans/gnc/queer folks/or anyone else interested in making films?

Filmmaking is so much more accessible than it was even a decade ago – both in production and in how these works get shown. I’m seeing more and more trans specific film festivals, which is exciting – our work doesn’t just have to exist as a sidebar program. I came into filmmaking in the late 1990s, a time when there was little representation of or work being made by trans/gnc people. If these stories were at all “positive”, they were usually only about the person’s gender and their transition, not the fact that they are a person trying to live and thrive in the world. I would encourage any young trans/gnc/queer folks to be making work right now becuase there is increcibldy fertile ground and people need to see it, especially in the current political crisis we are living through. This younger generation has a far more nuanced perspective on gender, and they are much more aware of the critical intersections of identity politics – race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and disability. The work that I see my students create continues to amaze me – I tell my students to think of themselves as filmmakers who have really important things to say in the world. They can be in conversation with other filmmakers and artists of different generations. They have so much to offer us, and we as older generations are so lucky to learn from them!

Light on a Path, Follow

Directed by Elliot Montague

USA; 15 minutes

Joaquín, a trans masculine person living in rural 1990s New England, is 8-months pregnant. After encountering a mysterious spirit in the forest, Joaquín goes into labor early. Is this spirit haunting or guiding Joaquín as they await their midwife?

Filmmaker Spotlight: Princess Bouton

Posted on November 3, 2020

Princess Bouton

Director of “Float Bitch”

What inspired you to make “Float Bitch”? What were some challenges?

Float Bitch was written on a whim. Some friends of mine who own an art gallery in Portland, Ori Gallery, invited me to be an exhibitionist for a month. I thought it was a joke at first to be honest but I asked myself “What do I have to share right now?” and this film was it at the time. One challenging aspect of this film was using my bedroom for most of it. I had to live on my own film set for a month. There were jeans everywhere. It was very overwhelming. Another challenge was being a full time college student and mourning the loss of a friend’s life due to police violence all while working on this film. I often feared I’d miss my deadline or as well as need to take a step back from school.

What do you think of the current state of trans/gnc filmmaking? Could you talk about it in relation to mainstream media and LGBTQ+ media?

I’m a queer independent/freelance filmaker. I graduated during the COVID-19 Pandemic and I am excited for the opportunities to come, however as of now I have only dipped my toes into the world of trans and gnc filmmaking. I’m still exploring what it means to be an artist and a part of a network during the age of social distance.

Do you have any words for to young trans/gnc/queer folks/or anyone else interested in making films?

My advice to young aspiring filmmakers would be to work with people who make you feel seen. Work with people who have faith in your vision.

Float Bitch 

Directed by Princess Bouton and
Evan James Benally Atwood

USA; 9 minutes

A short film that explores a black transfeminine filmmaker/performer’s relationship to her own self-worth and ego. The film pushes the idea that by centering yourself in your artwork, specifically for those who are typically “othered” in most narratives, one is committing a gorgeous and radical act.

Filmmaker Spotlight: Vision

Posted on November 1, 2020


Director of “femme de force, pt. 1”

What inspired you to make “femme de force, pt. 1”? 

What inspired the making of this film was partly the need for women like myself to have a platform to share a more I intimate portrait of our daily struggles and desires Janet Mock continues to encourage young trans women to “find away to write ourselves into history “this quote was primarily the impetus behind the need to make the film secondly to get resources to these women as soon as possible..I encourage all viewers to send to their Venmos.

What were some challenges?

Some of the challenges were one my lack of experience, fear of failing, finding out the deadline was really close, I wasn’t not aware this festival existed before it popped up in my feed 2 weeks prior to the deadline, and lastly the covid restrictions and finding the women who would he willing to share without much of a solid story board to share with them lol..I’m grateful for everyone involved trusting me enough with their stories their equipment time and image.

What do you think of the current state of trans/gnc filmmaking? Could you talk about it in relation to mainstream media and LGBTQ+ media?

What do I think of the current state of trans filmmaking? Im new to this world but from what I can see now from when I was little it appears the entertainment industry finds our storytelling brand worthy and profitable to some degree of course the troupes will continue but from what i know about us..when given the opportunity we are tenacious but we also understand patience is a given when it comes to things worth having.

Do you have any words for to young trans/gnc/queer folks/or anyone else interested in making films?

Firstly, mention it to a bunch a people. Then watch. Observe THE People who are enthusiastic about WHAT YOU ARE INSPIRED TO DO and LET THOSE PEOPLE FEED YOU NOT THE NAYSAYERS. IN FACT, I would STRONGLY encourage you to distance yourself from those people as much as possible — you have enough on your plate.

femme de force, pt. 1

Directed by Vision

USA; 15 minutes

Where gender is the performance, patriarchy is the contract. This is an excerpt to illuminate the everyday struggles of Black TransWomen in our communities.

Filmmaker Spotlight: Sepand Mashiahof

Posted on October 29, 2020

Sepand Mashiahof

Director of “Love You Forever”

What inspired you to make “Love You Forever”? What were some challenges?

The immensity of love that I have for my sister was the biggest inspiration to making Love You Forever. To be specific, I had a horrifically vivid nightmare that my sister was missing and I couldn’t find her, only to learn she was dead in the end. I woke up bawling my eyes out, so then I called her to tell her about it, and she coincidentally was with Hana (our cinematographer and best friend), and out of some kind of hysterical panic I was like “let’s make this into a film, this feeling is too strong.” Both my sister and I are trans, and though we love each other deeply, the differences in our personalities hold an inherent conflict that also made for an intriguing on-screen relationship. Sepehr is extremely bold, and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She knows she’s the queen, and she’s got a razor sharp attitude about it. I, on the other hand, am extremely anxious, self-minimizing, and not very upfront about my femininity in public. There’s envy in this dynamic, but also mutual astonishment and admiration of each other. But back to the film—it’s about the horror of loving someone so much that you constantly fear their death. My friend Nimmy called it “pre-grieving”, and all those red light scenes depict the internal realms of anxiety and how they project out onto real life-situations, where you can’t fully enjoy the company of loved ones with such fatalistic thoughts in your head all the time. This is especially harsh when you’re part of a demographic where our mortality is always in a state of reckoning.

The challenges were all very technical. None of us had ever really created a narrative film of this scale, and the technology was formidable. We had borrowed a camera from Stone Dove Productions that we barely knew how to use, but we attached a cheap rode mic to it and just went for it. The soundtrack was created all on analog synths and drum machines which was a whole other mountain of work (next time we gotta use software). Really though, I think that for a three person crew (where two of us were also the actors), we did an amazing job creating a movie with such a complicated narrative. I assume that challenges in filmmaking will continue to be access to resources, but then again, being honored as part of this SF Trans Film Festival, it shows you that if you create from an authentic place, many of the technicalities can be bypassed with good storytelling at the forefront.

What do you think of the current state of trans/gnc filmmaking? Could you talk about it in relation to mainstream media and LGBTQ+ media?

I think we’re on the verge of seeing incredible things in this lifetime. The films and the talent already exist (as we’ll all witness November 12-15), but they’re just not broadly visible or palatable yet, which echoes a personal narrative that I think most trans people can relate to. I think the current state of trans/gnc filmmaking is full of hope though. The process of unearthing our stories is already in motion, and we need to affirm ourselves beyond the judgement of mainstream media that our voices are important, that we need to do this. Really, the most important aspect of filmmaking isn’t monetary success or the accolades, it’s about the community you create through collaboration. Trans people have survived societal estrangement and abuse via our connections to one other, and the amazing part of filmmaking is that it provides a tangible opportunity for us to interface and create potent works of art. But above all, it’s pretty explicitly known that trans people are both underrepresented and/or negatively depicted in media. The trans apparatus from film to reality via the cis imagination has caused a lot of problems for us this way, because the public understanding of us mostly comes from film and media. As filmmakers, we can facilitate the accountability for this by offering authentic stories in place of the sensationalized garbage we’ve seen all our lives. I feel so lucky to know that there are others who are currently working to make this happen, and forging a path for me and other emerging filmmakers to come through. Anyway, I think that the current state of trans/gnc filmmaking is that we’re all each other’s biggest fans, and the more we commit ourselves to it, the more it inspires others to pursue their own dreams. With that, I also wanna shoutout to Pooya Mohseni, the first trans Iranian actress I’ve seen in film (Terrifier, 2016). That meant a lot to me, and motivated me, thank you joonam.

Do you have any words for to young trans/gnc/queer folks/or anyone else interested in making films?

You absolutely deserve to feel like you’re a part of this narrative, even if you just wrote a monologue and recorded yourself on a phone performing it. You created a seed, an idea, a launching pad for more. I know that it may seem discouraging to pursue artistic ventures, but if filmmaking brings you joy, or if it’s something that helps you feel whole, then please do it. Honestly, I’m giving this advice to myself as well, because I’m always second guessing myself and the validity of my work. I never knew that making a movie was possible, and even though it’s a little short film, it feels like everything to me. Don’t let self-doubt or high expectations stop you from creating the “everything” for you. And on a personal note: learn screenwriting, because that’s where it all begins! It’s hella fun, and it’s my main focus. I’ve written four features so far—each seems to get better. If anyone needs pointers on getting started with screenwriting, email me at with questions <3

Love You Forever

Directed by
Sepand Mashiahof, Sepehr Mashiahof, & Hana Harada

USA; 21 minutes

Stuck within the time loop of ritualistic trauma, this film is an experimental horror film that takes place within the spectral plain of “Trans Girl Ether”, amplifying the palpitations of loss, grief, abandonment, and trauma. This story follows two sisters navigating defeatism and nihilism, conquering their fears of one another to learn the unending power of their bond.

Content Warning:
Non-sexual nudity and brief violent imagery

Submissions are OPEN + Check out these movies you can watch today!

Posted on May 21, 2020

5 films by and about trans and gender non-binary people you can watch online for free!

We are excited to highlight some past SFTFF films that are currently available to watch online for free.


Bad Theology Dir. by Samira Shifteh
(screened at San Francisco Transgender Film Festival in 2018)

A lyrical video about faith and surviving domestic violence as a Black transgender person. Featuring original poetry by J Mase III and choreography by Randy Ford. This project was a collaboration between the performance artists and the director. Shot on location at the Black & Tan Hall in Seattle with a LGBTQ crew.

Watch Bad Theology (captioned):

Follow Randy Ford
Instagram: randybaby11

Follow J Mase III
Twitter: @JMaseIII 
Instagram: jmaseiii


Stop, Drop, Roll – Macy Gray ft Nik West Dir. Collier Landry & Guido Fabris
(screened at San Francisco Transgender Film Festival in 2017)

This music video for Macy Gray’s song “Stop, Drop, Roll” features popular gender-fluid dancer and choreographer, Jenzi Russell.

Watch Stop, Drop, Roll:

Follow star, Jenzi Russell
Twitter: @OfficialJenzi
Instagram: officialjenzi


HOMOSAFE Dir. Lorin Murphy
(screened at San Francisco Transgender Film Festival in 2018)

A music video for the song Homosafe by the band The Homobiles.


Follow Lorin Murphy
Instagram: lorindmurphy

Follow The Homobiles
Instagram: thehomobiles



Tranimal Dir. Shawna Virago
(screened at San Francisco Transgender Film Festival in 2018)

Music video for Tranimal by Shawna Virago. This folk-punk single is for those of us living outside the binary. 

Watch Tranimal:

Follow Shawna Virago
Twitter: @ShawnaVirago
Instagram: shawnavirago


Bustin’ Out: From Solitary To Re-Entry  Dir.  Janetta Johnson
(screened at San Francisco Transgender Film Festival in 2015)

Transgender activist and TGI Justice Project ED,  Janetta Johnson’s short film about solitary confinement and re-entry for transgender women in the prison system. This film was made for Black Girl Dangerous’ MagniFLY! project for trans women of color visibility.

Watch Bustin’ Out:

Follow Janetta Johnson
Twitter: @janetta114
Instagram: janetta3053

Follow TGI Justice Project
Twitter: @tgijp
Instagram: tgijustice

Follow Black Girl Dangerous




Trans Movies You Can Rent

Don’t stop there! Support trans filmmakers by renting their films! Here are films BY trans and nonbinary filmmakers that you can rent today!


Happy Birthday Marsha Dir. Tourmaline, Sasha Wortzel
(screened at San Francisco Transgender Film Festival in 2018)

Happy Birthday, Marsha! commemorates Black trans activist and performer Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson and her role in instigating the 1969 anti-policing riots at the Stonewall Inn, a watershed event for the gay liberation movement. The film interweaves imagined scenes with found archival footage to counter the endemic erasure of trans women of color from narratives of political resistance.

Rent Happy Birthday Marsha:

Follow Tourmaline
Twitter: @tourmaliiine
Instagram: tourmaliiine

Sasha Wortzel
Twitter: @sashawortzel
Instagram: sashawortzel


PASSING Dir. Lucah Rosenberg – Lee & J. Mitchel Reed
(screened at San Francisco Transgender Film Festival in 2015)

This short documentary profiles the lives of three men of color who have undergone gender transition from female to male. The film explores what life is like living as a black man, when no one knows you are transgender and how each of them perceives their own journey with gender after many years of being interacted with by the world as a biological man.

Rent Passing:

Follow filmmakers: 

Lucah Rosenberg-Lee
Twitter: @mntntpview
Instagram: mntntp

Mitchel Reed
Twitter:  @thepathyouwalk



Transfinite Dir. Neelu Bhuman
(screened at San Francisco Transgender Film Festival in 2019)

A sci-fi omnibus feature film composed of seven standalone magical short stories where supernatural trans and queer people from various cultures use their powers to protect, love, teach, fight and thrive.

Rent Transfinite:

Follow Transfinite:
Twitter: @transfinitefilm