News Briefs: Out leaders head SF film commission

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday January 31, 2024
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San Francisco Film Commission Vice President Jack Song, left, and President Villy Wang. Photos: Courtesy SF Film
San Francisco Film Commission Vice President Jack Song, left, and President Villy Wang. Photos: Courtesy SF Film

Two queer Asian Americans will head the San Francisco Film Commission this year as the body works to attract more movie productions to the city.

Villy Wang was reelected as president and Jack Song is the new vice president. Wang was first appointed by former mayor Gavin Newsom and reappointed by Mayor London Breed. An attorney, Wang is the founder, president, and CEO of the Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology, or BAYCAT. The 20-year-old nonprofit contributes to the filmmaking industry by educating and employing young Black, Indigenous people of color, LGBTQIA+, and women creatives, a news release stated.

Song was appointed to the film commission in 2019 by Breed. He is a brand and communications executive who has crafted integrated marketing campaigns for more than 150 commercial and independent films such as "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," "Better Luck Tomorrow," and "8: The Mormon Proposition," the release stated.

Song stated that he is looking forward to helping lead the commission.

"I am excited to leverage my extensive network in entertainment, politics, and tech to elevate San Francisco's profile further and attract more film and TV productions to our scenic city," Song stated. "Showcasing San Francisco on screen does more than just highlight our city's unique spirit; it also serves as an inspiration for filmmakers and audiences worldwide, showcasing the rich tapestry of our progressive, diverse culture."

In a statement, Wang said she welcomed Song's leadership.

"Welcoming Jack Song to Film SF as our newly elected vice president is an invigorating moment for us," she stated. "Together, we're dedicated to championing our talented and passionate filmmaking community, emphasizing the vital role of diverse storytellers in our pursuit of a more inclusive and vibrant film industry in San Francisco."

The film industry in San Francisco is doing well, according to Film SF, the official film office for the city. According to its Impact Report for fiscal year 2022-23 that was recently published, film productions in San Francisco generated over $19 million in direct economic output during this period.

Breed praised the progress made.

"San Francisco's film industry continues to significantly contribute both to our local economy and the city's global profile, helping draw millions of visitors from around the world," Breed stated. "Film productions bring a surge of local jobs, help our small businesses, highlight our vibrant neighborhoods, and elevate San Francisco as a world-class destination."

The mayor added that she looks forward to the city welcoming more film productions.

SF Film Executive Director Manijeh Fata stated that the city's film industry "remains dynamic and robust."

"Our city continues to be a beacon for filmmakers worldwide, offering unparalleled staff resources, knowledge, talent, and diversity," Fata stated.

Fata was appointed executive director in November 2022. She has been with SF Film since 2015 and led projects like "The Last Black Man in San Francisco," "The Matrix Resurrections," and Netflix's "The OA."

The "Matrix" film had its U.S. premiere at the Castro Theatre on December 18, 2021 and drew complaints from some Castro merchants because of parking restrictions put in place during the height of the holiday shopping season. A number of merchants said they weren't informed beforehand about the premiere, which brought trans director Lana Wachowski, star Keanu Reeves, and other cast members to the LGBTQ neighborhood, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

The previous executive director of SF Film, Susannah Greason Robbins, called the concerns "understandable" at the time. However, she noted that the premiere put the city — and the Castro LGBTQ neighborhood — "on the world stage."

EQCA to hold US Senate forum

The statewide LGBTQ rights group Equality California will hold an online forum featuring the three top Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Saturday, February 3, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Congressmembers Barbara Lee (Oakland), Adam Schiff (Burbank), and Katie Porter (Irvine) will be featured during the event. They will each answer a series of questions on topics of importance to the state's LGBTQ community, according to a news release. Dustin Gardiner of Politico and Simha Haddad of the Los Angeles Blade will co-moderate. Questioners are expected to include gay men EQCA Executive Director Tony Hoang and Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner and trans woman Bamby Salcedo, president and CEO of TransLatin@ Coalition.

The event will be livestreamed, but at press time a link had not been provided. For more information, go to EQCA's Facebook page.

Oakland center kicks off Black History Month

The Oakland LGBTQ Community Center and Frameline, the San Francisco LGBTQ film festival, are partnering to show "Tongues Untied" at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland Sunday, February 4, to kick off Black History Month. The free film screening and a panel discussion will take place from noon to 2 p.m., an announcement stated.

"Tongues Untied," directed by the late Marlon Riggs, a gay Black man, was released in 1989. It gives voice to communities of gay Black men, presenting their cultures and perspectives on the world as they confront racism, homophobia, and marginalization.

Riggs, who was 37 when he died of AIDS-related complications in 1994, lived in Oakland. Many of the scenes in the film were shot in the city.

For tickets, click here.

Mandelman holding meeting on retail theft

Gay San Francisco District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman will hold a town hall on retail theft Monday, February 5, from 5 to 6 p.m. at Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street.

In a Facebook post, Mandelman said that the meeting will discuss retail theft in the district, which includes the LGBTQ Castro neighborhood, Noe Valley, and Glen Park, as well as across the city. District Attorney Brooke Jenkins is scheduled to attend, as are San Francisco Police Department Captain Tom Harvey of Mission Station and Ryan Allain, government affairs director for the California Retailers Association.

To RSVP, click here.

South Bay candidate forums

Citizens' Climate Lobby California will hold two virtual forums for candidates running for the 16th Congressional District in the South Bay. Each forum will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and feature five candidates, organizers noted.

The first one takes place Thursday, February 1. It will include gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino); Joby Bernstein, climate change advocate; Palo Alto City Councilmember Julie Lythcot-Haims, a bi woman of color; Santa Clara County Supervisor and former state legislator Joe Simitian; and Palo Alto City Councilmember Greg Lin Tanaka. To register, click here.

The second forum will be held Monday, February 5. Candidates appearing will be Marine Corps veteran Peter Dixon; Rishi Kumar, who has sought the seat before; former San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo; Ahmed Mostafa; and Peter Ohtaki. To register, click here.

LGBTQIA+ older adults survey

The California Department of Aging and a statewide coalition of LGBTQIA+ community organizations and research partners have launched a groundbreaking, statewide online survey of queer older adults.

"This is an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ older adults to share their perspectives, experiences, needs, and priorities to help inform state policies and programs for older adults," stated Susan DeMarois, director of the state aging department. "There's no baseline data on the aging experiences and needs of older LGBTQIA+ Californians, so survey responses will help paint a current and comprehensive portrait of this community."

Openhouse, the LGBTQ senior agency in San Francisco, is a study partner for the survey.

"Studies have shown that LGBTQIA+ individuals face significant barriers to access health care, for example," noted Kathleen Sullivan, Ph.D., Openhouse's executive director. "We're coordinating with a statewide coalition of organizations to reach as many survey respondents as possible and we encourage all LGBTQIA+ adults aged 50 and older to share their experiences."

Participation in the survey is anonymous, a news release noted, and people can take it until March 31. The survey is available in English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Chinese.

For more information and to take the survey, go to

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