BLOODSISTERS

By Michelle HANDELMAN

MICHELLE HANDELMAN STUDIO - as PROD

Documentary - Completed 1995

25 years after its release, BLOODSISTERS, Michelle Handelman’s ground-breaking documentary on the San Francisco leather dyke scene is as vital as ever. From pushy bottoms to macho femmes, BLOODSISTERS is an A-Z documentary guide that shatters assumptions about gender and lesbian sexuality.

Festivals
& Awards

BFI Flare 2021
Bodies
    • Year of production
    • 1995
    • Genres
    • Documentary, LGBT
    • Countries
    • USA
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH
    • Duration
    • 69 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Michelle HANDELMAN
    • Synopsis
    • 25 years after its release, BLOODSISTERS, Michelle Handelman’s ground-breaking documentary on the San Francisco leather dyke scene is as vital as ever.

      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 speaking out for equal rights.

      Michelle Handelman's BLOODSISTERS captures these queer outlaws in a DIY fashion, just like the activism of the era.  From pushy bottoms to macho femmes, BLOODSISTERS is an A-Z documentary guide that takes an in-depth look at the San Francisco leather dyke scene, shattering assumptions about gender and lesbian sexuality, while broadening the discussion about personal expressions of eroticism and their political implications. Eight self-described leather dykes tell their stories about participating in a subculture cast off by its own immediate ally, the larger lesbian community.

      BLOODSISTERS premiered at the 1995 Frameline Film Festival, then went on to screen at over 50 festivals and venues in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne– all in all, over eleven countries, with broadcasts on England’s Bravo TV and Channel 4, in addition to German, Italian, and Australian television. Winner of Bravo Award, Manchester Film Festival.

      Originally distributed by Women Make Movies, an organization that received NEA support, BLOODSISTERS was at the heart of a censorship controversy when the NEA was up for ratification in the late 1990s. This controversial film was attacked in congress by the American Family Association for its depictions of radical lesbian sexuality, but the film reveals a fluidity to role-playing that is far more complex. As one woman declares, “S/M is about finding your own boundaries and moving beyond…claiming your own agency.” A soundtrack by Riot Grrrl bands Frightwig and Typhoon, and industrial music pioneers Coil and Chris & Cosey propel the film toward its climax with a powerful and urgent energy.

      BLOODSISTERS was the first film to represent this queer community on the fringes. It features the players who started the current conversation on gender fluidity and radical sexuality, and reminds us that now, more than ever, we need to keep vigilant on queer and trans rights.