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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Transgender Film Festival: Giving Trans Filmmakers a Voice, 17 Years and Counting

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 7:56 AM

click to enlarge Still from "Black is Blue" by Cheryl Dunye. - ELIZABETH STRONG
  • Elizabeth Strong
  • Still from "Black is Blue" by Cheryl Dunye.

Originally named the Tranny Fest, the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival has been sharing films since 1997— providing a platform for transgender and gender-variant filmmakers. And this year's festival will take places at the Roxie Theater on November 7-9. 

The transgender community has seen many changes since the film festival debuted 17 years ago, changes in the entertainment industry include trans actress Lavern Cox received an Emmy nomination and made the cover of Time for her groundbreaking work in Orange Is the New Black and Chaz Bono's emergence as a celebrity in his own right. Yet, many trans identified filmmakers can still face insurmountable odds in getting their work seen, which makes the Transgender Film Festival a valuable resource.

Festival Artistic Director Shawna Virago  talks to SF Weekly about the festival and its importance to the community.

SF Weekly: Can you tell us a bit about the festival's history?

click to enlarge sftff_2014_frt.jpg
Virago: We are North America's first transgender film festival and the world's longest running transgender film festival. This is our 13th film festival. We got over 130 submissions this year and we have a large group of trans and gender variant people who comprise our screening people.

SF Weekly: Where might some of the films be available to audiences after the festival?

Virago: Come to the festival! It might be the only opportunity to see many of these movies in San Francisco. All genders are welcome.

SF Weekly: Can you explain the importance of the festival?

Virago: It's important for all marginalized groups to be empowered to frame their stories. Authentic transgender stories are vastly under-represented or absent entirely from mainstream cinema. Rarely do transgender people get to actually direct and produce their own films. We're too often used as a plot device.

SF Weekly: What is the significance of Laverne Cox's Emmy nomination?

Virago: Since we started the festival in 1997 it was unimaginable that we'd see transgender people nominated for an Emmy Award, such as Cox. Ditto with the Amazon series Transparent. These are fantastic events,but we still have a long ways to go, we still need transgender and gender variant people producing their own content.

For more information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival site.

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