By Marie Haka
Issues of identity sometimes lead to division or strife, but UC Santa Cruz students are hoping to bring people together in an enjoyable and meaningful way to engage with an array of categories such as sexual and ethnic identity.
UCSC’s 14th Annual Women of Color Film and Video Festival will create a space this weekend for different communities to come together and share their experiences.
“We want to provide a fun space for women of color and for allies,” said Monica Enriquez, co-director of the festival.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. Friday, March 14 and the weekend festival will officially begin at 6:30 p.m. with opening remarks by UCSC professor and social justice advocate Angela Davis.
This year’s theme, “Bodies in Flight: Transit and Migration” will showcase cultural productions that address issues of migration and dislocation, including histories of colonialism and enslavement, U.S. militarism and the expansion of transnational and global capitalism.
Enriquez clarified that the “Bodies in Flight” theme will address different types of migration and its impact on people of different identities.
“We’re trying to explore what migration and immigration mean for different people,” Enriquez said. “We’ll be looking at the intersections of migration and race, nation, class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality.”
In the hope of engaging participants with these issues in new and exciting ways, organizers have scheduled feature film screenings, music and spoken word performances, discussion panels, and presentations by student and community organizations.
Friday night will kick off the festival with a film compilation called “Identities in Transit,” and will be followed with a performance by SIN Verguenza, a UCSC student-based collective of AB 540 students (AB 540 is also known as the non-resident tuition exemption law). Late-night entertainment will follow, as the festival moves to the Hide Gallery on Front Street for musical performances by Erica Benton and Las Krudas Cubensi.
The first film screening on Saturday will be presented by the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP), a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that promotes the creation, exhibition, and distribution of films and videos that increase the visibility of queer women of color. The films it sponsors aim to reflect their life stories and address social justice issues within the community by providing professional training, equipment, screening opportunities and other resources to poor women of color. Their film compilation, “Multiple Borders,” will be followed by a discussion with representatives from the organization.
Kebo Drew, development and events manager at the QWOCMAP, expressed the importance of the presence of queer women of color at an event like this because they transcend many identity categories.
“Queer women of color bridge so many communities, so to be able to bring those all together can be very healing — not just for us, but for all of the different communities that we’re a part of and all the communities that we touch,” Drew said.
In addition to film screenings, community organizations will be featured on Saturday. In addition to QWOCMAP, they include Justice Now, an organization that seeks to end violence against women and challenges the prison-industrial complex, and Latinas and Lesbians and Allies (LyLyA), a Santa Cruz County support group.
The festival will conclude with a spoken word program by IGO, a youth troupe from the Bay Area. Aimee Suzara — an artist known for tackling racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression through her writing, performances and workshops — will also perform.
Festival co-director Cindy Bello hopes that participants find these artistic expressions both enjoyable and enlightening.
“We’re hoping that people find it valuable to engage with these questions in this way, as opposed to the traditional academic way,” Bello said. “We want to present it in an entertaining way, and we hope people will rethink these issues of migration.”
_For a full schedule of film screenings and events, visit ucscwocfilmfest.com._