Unique group of filmmakers celebrate 10 years of telling ‘our stories’

By Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, shades Magazine


Photos by Z'ma Wyatt.


It opened with a Native American prayer and reflection, ended with praise and thanks and in between, there was a diverse mix of spoken word, song, dance and self-expression performances.

The “Jubilation!” as it was dubbed, was the 10th anniversary celebration of film, art and sisterhood for the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, or QWOCMAP. And about 100 women gathered this past Saturday for the event … some former and current project filmmakers, all fans of the organization that has provided a voice – and a lens – to so many.

“QWOCMAP is determination, it’s the critical awareness of political oppression and the blade that slices away patriarchy … .

“It’s leadership without hierarchy and sharp-studded combat boots. … QWOCMAP is family; it’s children rearing and healthy families … it’s being held during hard times and encouragement from the cold …  it’s recognition that our histories are being spoken and that we have the agency to archive our voices … .

“It’s cerebral orgasms and spiritual connections … .

“It’s a shout out to our ancestors and the tools to obliterate the lies we were taught about them. It’s the erasure of Euro-centric temporality and the celebration of our indigenous legacies.”

These were the words spoken by Margaret Rhee and JDX Saturday evening when, near the end of the night, they took the stage inside the African American Art & Culture Complex in San Francisco.

The evening also included a reception, silent auction and encouragement by staff and volunteers to support QWOCMAP – with your presence at the annual film festival held in June … and with your dollars.

The project started in 2000 after Executive/Artistic Director Madeleine Lim received a grant through the California Arts Council to teach film to queer women of color in San Francisco.


Madeleine Lim, far right, stands with QWOCMAP filmmakers during Saturday's Jubilation!


“But really, my vision was to nurture a community of queer women of color filmmakers in the Bay Area,” Lim said.

Over the years, she, along with Managing Director T. Kebo Drew and a primarily volunteer staff, has developed and nurtured the creativity of emerging media artists who are Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Chicana/Latina, Native American and mixed-race lesbians, bisexual, queer and questioning women in the Bay Area.

The organization also has provided training, screening opportunities and resources to close to 200 participants – at no charge – to guarantee full access to traditionally underserved community, particularly those that are low-income and immigrant queer women of color.

Saturday night’s event was only a resting point to look back … and move forward.

The project’s theme in 2011 is sex, sexism, sexuality, gender and gender identity “so it’s really looking at sexuality sexual orientation through a people of color perspective,” Lim said.

This year’s intermediate class is comprised of alumni QWOCMAP filmmakers who will take their stories to the next level. For more information, visit http://www.qwocmap.org.

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