LUSH Film Edition celebrates queer filmmaking
with Brontez Purnell, Heather María Ács, and Leo Herrera
Thursday, April 15, 7:00 PM PST
Monday, March 29, 2021, San Francisco, CA–LUSH: A SOMArts Series returns on Thursday, April 15, 7pm PST with a Film Edition featuring clips and conversation centering the disruptive works of Brontez Purnell, Heather María Ács of FemmePower Productions and Leo Herrera. Moderated by SOMArts’ Director of Events and Hard French producer Devon Nandagiri, LUSH Film Edition celebrates the multiplicity of queer histories and futures.
“LUSH Film Edition celebrates the legacy and impact of queer films where we see ourselves as the storytellers of our own experiences,” says Nandagiri.
LUSH is grounded in a Solarpunk ethos that rejects dystopian narratives and favors visions of sustainability and interconnection. Originally the theme of SOMArts’ 2020 annual fundraiser, which was canceled due to COVID, SOMArts was determined to still incorporate these concepts into programming, as community care and interdependence came to the forefront of international conversation in the wake of the pandemic. In January 2021 the week of the inauguration, LUSH was reborn as a three-part virtual series featuring conversations between socially-engaged artists across a variety of mediums. The first event in the series, LUSH Literary Edition, included readings and conversation between queer writers of color discussing the past and future of queer diasporic art and life.
At this critical moment, the LUSH series asks artists and activists, How can we move toward futures that are thriving in abundance? How have we carved out spaces where we can exist without compromise?
Leo Herrera references queer history and creates joyful, thriving futures through his sci-fi documentary and multimedia project Fathers “which imagines the AIDS pandemic never existed and a generation lived to change the world.” Brontez Purnell uses punk rock aesthetics that is chaotic as it is experimental and vulnerable, and Heather María Ács, founder of FemmePower Productions, shifts media and cultural paradigms through “intersectional equity on screen and behind the scenes.”
As Nandagiri shares, “In a time of loneliness exacerbated by the pandemic, each of these filmmakers use the moving image to explore ownership of space, our relationship to ourselves and one another, and create accessibility to queer culture that can be experienced beyond regions and borders.”
Tickets to LUSH Film Edition are donation-based on a sliding scale, $5-20; no one turned away for lack of funds. Donations made through this event ensures that SOMArts continues to provide
critical space and support to Bay Area artists and curators for years to come, while ensuring the arts are accessible to all.
Closed captioning will be provided during the virtual stream
Sliding scale donations, $5–20 with no one turned away for lack of funds
MODERATOR & ARTIST BIOS
DEVON NANDAGIRI is currently the Director of Events at SOMArts where he works with and mentors artists and event organizers. He is also the co-founder of the award winning dance party Hard French – which has brought legendary artists and DJs to San Francisco. He is the director of Malaqueerche, a cult film that inspired the JUNK film festival which he curated and screened throughout the US and Europe. He has also produced the youtube show BrownDownCrownTV for the now defunct open mic night – K’vetch. He has collaborated with artists throughout his 15 years in SF — from throwing punk shows at local dive bars to wallpaper exhibitions in nightclub bathrooms. He has a deep love of events and supporting artistic endeavors that help shape and create community. He is currently consulting on a script for a TV series about queer adventures in the Bay.
BRONTEZ PURNELL is a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist. He is the author of a graphic novel, a novella, a children’s book, and the novel Since I Laid My Burden Down. The recipient of a 2018 Whiting Writers’ Award for Fiction, he was named one of the thirty-two Black Male Writers of Our Time by T: The New York Times Style Magazine in 2018. Purnell is also the frontman for the band the Younger Lovers, a cofounder of the experimental dance group the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, the creator of the renowned cult zine Fag School, and the director of several short films, music videos, and the documentary Unstoppable Feat: The Dances of Ed Mock. Born in Triana, Alabama, he’s lived in Oakland, California, for 19 years.
HEATHER MARIA ACS (she/her/Mx.) is a working-class raised, Appalachian, mixed-race Anglo-Xicana writer/director whose work explores queer, radical subcultures and femme-inine identities. Her films have played Big Apple Film Festival NY (Best LGBTQ Short, FLOURISH, 2020), Hollyshorts, Brooklyn Academy of Music, London Short Film Fest, Newfest, Mardi Gras FF (Australia), and Oaxaca IFF, among others.
Her company, FemmePower Productions, commits to intersectional representation on screen and behind the scenes. She launched the free streaming platform, FemmePowerTV – queer content for quarantine – in May 2020 at www.femmepowerproductions.com, where you can watch her film, FLU$H, and a program of innovative and intersectional short films, docs, and series.
Mx. Ács is also an intimacy coordinator (PLAN B, Hulu) and a consultant for authentic representation of BDSM/kink and LGBTQIA+ communities. [@FemmePowerProductions]
Learn more: https://femmepowerproductions.com/originals
LEO HERRERA is a Mexican activist/filmmaker and writer known for queer viral art films and short documentaries that tackle issues of queer politics, sex, HIV stigma and history. He travels across America to document instances of “queer utopia,” which are the basis of Fathers. For more info on Herrera’s work please visit leoherrera.com and follow on Instagram & Twitter @herreraimages and Facebook @iftheylived
Learn more: iftheylived.org