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Barriers & Breakthroughs



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2017 Grant:
Barriers & Breakthroughs

On June 20-12, 2016 Frameline presented a film and discussion series Barriers & Breakthroughs: Illuminating Filmmakers of Color Before & Beyond MOONLIGHT as part of its 41st San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival. The series reflected upon accurate and authentic representations of community and the path that queer filmmakers of color must navigate in creating and bringing stories of their multi-layered experiences to fruition.

Sexual and gender identity are definitive personal characteristics that are often developed and revealed over time – often accompanied by internal resistance, societal disapproval or family rejection, especially when layered with the additional pressure of cultural mores, identity politics, and a potential for polarization. In approaching the intersectionality of these issues Barriers & Breakthroughs curated a series of screenings drawn from a body of work featuring bold and groundbreaking approaches to the subject. Supplementing the screenings were two panel discussions featuring filmmakers drawn from myriad vantage points and encompassing a breadth of diversity. The discussions focused on intent and impact while allowing audience members to engage with the panel through in-depth question and answer sessions.

Drawing upon a body of work containing historical and new narrative and documentary works, the screenings and two panel sessions explored how stories have been presented, how works have broken or perhaps created unforeseen barriers, and how perception and greater representation might shift the ability of these queer narratives toward greater understanding and acceptance.

On June 20th, Frameline41 presented its first discussion panel, Online & Out The Door: QTPOC Episodics Break Barriers. The panel featured a strong lineup of uninhibited QTPOC perspectives that tapped into the zeitgeist to validate a vital presence currently lacking in mainstream film and television. Spearheaded by activists and artists working both behind and in front of the camera, their creations of narrative and documentary web series examine, with a mixture of humor and heartbreak, the complicated convergence of ethnicity, sexuality, culture, gender, and gender identity in queer communities of color.

On June 21st, Frameline41 presented Real Talk on Representation: (Re)Framing the Conversation. Despite a breadth of content made by and for queer trans people of color (QTPOC), widespread representation of the diversity of stories of QTPOC communities has yet to receive matching resources and kudos on the mainstream stage. In many ways the film industry has a history of whitewashing, cis-washing, and generally erasing all but the most tokenized representations. Yet even as their work is often marginalized and dismissed as “not commercially viable” by industry decision makers, some filmmakers have found ways to create, produce, and distribute QTPOC images.

In each of the discussions, panelists examined what burdens of representation rest upon queer filmmakers of color to “get it right”? Are they alone encumbered by a responsibility to tackle a range of issues in a single film, when even one of the concerns complicating the story would be a sufficient challenge? As more filmmakers of color can be found behind the camera, is the full complexity and diversity of the LGBTQ community being shown by who is and who is not onscreen or represented within the audience?

Frameline’s panel discussions were streamed live and then archived for later viewing online. They can be viewed via the following links:

Online & Out The Door: QTPOC Episodics Break Barriers:

Real Talk on Representation: (Re)Framing the Conversation:

For more information on Barriers & Breakthroughs, please contact