If you like puppets, googly eyes and trans pride, you’ll squee like I did over the above trailer for the 10th Anniversary San Francisco Transgender Film Festival, which kicks off this coming Thursday with a night of performance by transgender and gender-variant artists, and follows it up with full two nights of short films. As this year’s Call for Entries describes it, the Festival exhibits “Groundbreaking, provocative, outrageous, courageous, moving and innovative works that show the complexity of lives lived on the transgender/ genderqueer spectrum.”
The whole thing’s at CounterPulse, 1310 Mission Street in San Francisco, November 3-5, with sliding scale admission $12-15 each night. If you’re interested in attending, it’s highly recommended that you buy tickets in advance at Brown Paper Tickets, since last year’s event not only sold out — it broke CounterPulse’s all-time attendance record. The SFTFF, true to the heart of San Francisco’ss transgender and gender-variant community, has cast a wide and inclusive net thanks to the attentions of its many volunteers, Fresh Meat Productions and the Festival’s longtime artistic director, Shawna Virago.
Weirdly, the Los Angeles Transgender Film Festival is on the very same dates, which sounds like it would really put a damper on a few travel plans.
Anyway, back to the SFTFF! The live performances are on Thursday, November 3, starting at at 8pm, and the all-short-film-format runs on Friday and Saturday, November 4 and November 5, with different films each night. As the website says, the films feature “enticing tales of defiance, bullying, relationships, sex, humor, enchantment and romance…This year’s Festival features an award-winning mix of international films from countries including Thailand, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Canada, Singapore, Germany, Scotland, England, South Africa and The Netherlands.”
The Thursday performance gig features Annie Danger, D’Lo, Natsha Muse, Storm Miguel Florez, Butch Tap, Kentucky Fried Woman, Shawna Virago, Eli Conley and more, and is hosted by Fairy Butch. On Friday, the films include “Love and Other Red Spot Specials,” about a shoplifting transperson in an isolated Australian town; the German “Ring Frei,” about a transman boxer, “Robin Hood is So Gay,” in which Sherwood Forest’s hero is tweaked right back to his ultra-gay roots. There’s also “Butch Tits,” in which butch women “discuss the sometimes complicatated relationship they have with their breasts,” and that’s just to mention a few.
Another of Friday’s short films sounds like a fascinating documentary and an important addition to trans history: “Changing House” by Z.A. Martohardjono, in which “Rusty and Chelsea are a transgender lesbian couple who devoted 15 years to making their Brooklyn home a communal living space for transgender women in need and transgender civil rights organizers, including Stonewall legend Sylvia Rivera.”
Saturday’s films include the California premiere of Nikki Lee Taylor’s “The Lusty Gypsies.” — “On the stage it’s glitz and glitter, but backstage the gloves come off: the choices and differences between Drag and Transsexual performers are explored.”
Saturday also includes what sound like two amazing historical films, one fictional but inspired by a real story, and one the California premiere of rare historical documents. “Lili Longed to Feel Her Insides” is a “short fairy tale” inspired by the life of Lili Elbe, who died in 1931 of complications from one of the first (attempted) male-to-female gender reassignment surgeries — a procedure that included the transplantation of a uterus (she appears to have died from tissue rejection). And “Dayzee Dee’s Dazzling Drag Balls” is “[A] rare super 8mm film of pre-Stonewall Brooklyn drag balls plus contemporary interviews with early drag ball organizers.” Another of Saturday’s offerings, “The Panty Man,” tells “The true story of a man’s obsession with female panties and his denial of his sexuality.”
Remember, last year’s Festival broke attendance records at CounterPulse, so buy tickets in advance! Find out more about the SFTFF at www.sftff.org, and while you’re at it, you can hit the Twitterverse to follow both the SF Transgender Film Festival and Fresh Meat Productions and even “like” Fresh Meat and SFTFF on Facebook, if you do that sort of thing.