Queer Women of Color Film Festival celebrates 20 years in San Francisco

An underrepresented group in Hollywood took a leading role in San Francisco at the 20th annual Queer Women of Color Film Festival.

The three-day event brings together a marginalized group of filmmakers at the historic Presidio Theatre to showcase inclusion.

"When I moved to San Francisco, I had to create my own community," said filmmaker Asari Aibangbee, a first generation African American, who identifies as non-binary.

"We don’t know folks when we first meet them," Aibangbee said. "I want folks to look twice about how they perceive certain people, particularly how they perceive dark-skinned folks."

More than forty films will be shown at the festival, which occurs during Pride month.

The goal of the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP) is to serve as a bridge between various communities.

Founder Madeleine Lim points out, many queer characters on screen, all the way through the 1980s, were not portrayed in a positive light.

"Almost all of our queer characters were dead, murdered, or depressed," Lim said. "To have a happy ending in a film, it shouldn’t be a big deal, but you know, sometimes it still is."

The festival showcases themes of perseverance, activism, and love, while exploring the complexities of ethnicity in the LGBTQ+ community.

A film about traditional Filipino tattoo art is the brainchild of Julia Nacario, who is a product of the film festival’s youth academy.

"When we don’t have queer women of color behind the camera, and in charge of these narratives, we have stories written on behalf of us," Nacario said. "QWOCMAP offers us the ability to create and learn about just representations."

She believes representation matters.

The Queer Women of Color Film Festival runs from June 14-16 at the Presidio Theatre at 99 Moraga Avenue in San Francisco.

Admission is free.