Presented by SECS Fest! During the early 1990s, San Francisco was the epicenter of body modification and gender nonconformity, with transgender pioneers like Patrick Califia and Tala Brandeis fighting for visibility alongside the voice of a bold S/M community. Michelle Handelman’s provocative and pioneering documentary captures these queer outlaws in their zeitgeist moment, shot on digital video with an unfiltered rawness that mirrors the activism of the era. From pushy bottoms to macho femmes, BLOODSISTERS immerses the viewer in the San Francisco leatherdyke scene, shattering assumptions about gender and lesbian sexuality, while broadening the discussion about personal expressions of eroticism and their political implications.
In the 1990s, the movie was attacked in congress by the American Family Association for its depictions of radical lesbian sexuality. More than twenty-five years later, it has become recognized as a treasured historical document of a movement that tore down barriers of sex, gender, and activism.
“What was perhaps meant to document a moment in history has proven every single time I’ve watched it that it hasn’t aged at all. This is both a testament to the lack of progress in the larger scope of American politics, but also affirms that leatherdykes have been forward thinking when it comes to sexuality and gender long before Bloodsisters was created. I am forever grateful for the spark that this film ignited in me, in my queer imagination, and in the connection to my erotic heritage.” DaemonumX, Autostraddle
“Released in 1995 and directed by video artist and filmmaker Michelle Handelman, BloodSisters is a vital archive of San Francisco’s once-thriving leatherdyke community. It’s also a rare time capsule of a community at risk of erasure, whether by assimilation or puritanism, and is surprisingly current in its discussion of the ever-evolving spectrum of lesbian/dyke/queer identity… In a world that would rather erase all alternative lifestyles, BloodSisters is a vital archive of queer history.” Jude Dry, IndieWire