Curated by Malic Amalya

From the depths of the underground emerge new films that defy standards of narrative cinema and normative desires. From stunning 16mm to video performance, these films deploy campy debauchery and sensual studies in light and texture to map trajectories of the indeterminable, the transitional, and the liminal. Placing queer bodies in front of the camera, these films ruminate on representation in pop culture, state surveillance, and memory, while also making claims to public space, fantasy, and legacy.

Something Horizontal,  Blake Williams

Something Horizontal, Blake Williams



APRIL 26, 2018

Beginning with Karen Johannesen’s Super-8mm film CHROMATIC and ending with Jack Smith’s YELLOW SEQUENCE, the films in this program describe gender through abstractions, flashes, gestures, and color motifs. Ultra-saturated flowers fade into perverse pastels, while monochromatic color pallets transfigure into crystal prisms.

Karen Johannesen, CHROMATIC (2015, 4 min, Super-8mm)
The Wreck Family, FULL OF PRIDE (2010, 5 min, digital)
Blake Williams, SOMETHING HORIZONTAL (2015, 10 min, digital 3D)
Mykki Blanco, STONES AND WATER WEIGHT (2017, 7 min, digital. Commissioned by Visual AIDS for Day With[out] Art 2017.)
Tina Takemoto, SEMIOTICS OF SAB (2016, 5.5 min, digital)
Mark Aguhar, A LITTLE BIT OF EXXXSTACY (2011, 1 min, digital)
Fox Whitney, BEIGE SLOW CHANGE (2012, 3 min, digital)
Fox Whitney, QUICK CHANGE #203 ESCAPE #5 (2012, 3 min, digital)
Stom Sogo, 3 FILMS FOR UNTITLED (1995, 9 min, 16mm, silent)
Joey Carducci & Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, ALL THAT SHELTERING EMPTINESS (2010, 7 min, 16mm)
Jack Smith, YELLOW SEQUENCE (1963–65, 15 min, 16mm)

This program derives from “INFRARED: In Celebration of the Compton’s Transgender District.” In 2018, to celebrate this designation of the Compton Transgender District in San Francisco - the first legally recognized municipal transgender district in the world - the San Francisco Cinematheque invited Malic Amalya to curate a four-part series of experimental films by and about transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming artists.

“The Cinema of Gender Transgression: Trans Film” is an extensive, ongoing series exploring the ways in which cinema has intersected with the experiences, struggles, and ideas of transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming lives and communities. Organized with the participation of a variety of guest curators, the series showcases contemporary films and videos that explore concepts related to gender transgression as well as films that have had historical resonance within and beyond these communities.

Transgender and gender-nonconforming issues hold a more prominent place in the national conversation today than ever before, though gender transgression and the experiences of these individuals have always existed. This series aims to call attention to those films that dared to question gender norms in periods when even to broach the topic was considered controversial, and to provide a platform for the contemporary socio-political concerns of trans filmmakers and artists challenging the gender binary today.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, this chapter of “The Cinema of Gender Transgression” sheds light on those who have been left out of LGBTQ liberation narratives. In part to redress these omissions, we are thrilled to showcase the legacy of Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson in Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel’s HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARSHA!, the pre-Stonewall activism uncovered by Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman in THE SCREAMING QUEENS: THE RIOT AT COMPTON’S CAFETERIA, and the courageous lives of senior trans women in Jessica Dimmock & Christopher LaMarca’s THE PEARL.

“The Cinema of Gender Transgression” is curated in collaboration with Joey Carducci and Madsen Minax. Throughout the series, guest curators contribute programs as well; this chapter features two programs guest curated and presented by renowned writer and theorist Jack Halberstam, who will open the series with Sergio Toledo’s VERA, and close with Allan Moyle’s classic TIMES SQUARE. Malic Amalya will also appear in person to present a dynamic program of short experimental films titled INFRARED: COLOR THEORY, derived from a program presented by San Francisco Cinematheque in celebration of the designation of the Compton’s Transgender District.