Access, Equity, and Inclusion in Film

By Giving List Women   |   May 20, 2024
Photo of QWOCMAP Filmmaker Training Program youth filmmaking workshop participant and cast during their film shoot.

If you can’t get a seat at the table, says Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP) Founding Executive Director Madeleine Lim, then you build your own table. At first, that table looked like a handful of chairs around a borrowed room, with a stack of handouts and a tiny white board from which Lim led workshops teaching filmmaking to queer women of color. 

Now, almost 25 years later, QWOCMAP is an organization that provides funding, training, equipment, resources, and a platform for filmmakers whose voices are frequently silenced. To date, over 480 films have been created – the largest catalog of original films by queer women and gender-nonconforming people of color in existence. Operating in partnership with over 100 community organizations, QWOCMAP is now a powerful, innovative institutional leader when it comes to queer arts organizations.

The Impact of Telling Your Own Story

The heart of QWOCMAP is its free Filmmaker Training workshops. In addition, the organization presents a free and wildly popular annual Queer Women of Color Film Festival, which brings communities together to shine a light on the lives of its members. By supporting, inspiring, and showcasing the work of queer women of color, QWOCMAP raises the profiles of its participants and raises awareness of the issues and experiences of people whose voices are still often marginalized in the mainstream media industries.

Growing up as a queer teenager in Singapore in the late ‘70s, Lim struggled to be open about her sexuality while facing harassment in school, from teachers and students alike. At 16, she contemplated ending her life. But then, in her early 20s, Lim fled government persecution for her activist work and ended up in San Francisco. “This is where my activism stems from,” says Lim, “striving to make it easier for the young queers coming behind us” to survive, thrive, and flourish in the world.

Foregrounding Accessibility and Building Community

While its workshops used to be based primarily in San Francisco, QWOCMAP has nimbly grown to adapt to the needs of the community it serves. In the last 10 years, QWOCMAP expanded its reach, via a four-day filmmaking bootcamp, which now allows for travel around the country, particularly to places where queer residents of color struggle to build community because of political and social pressures.

The expense of making films and learning how to do so is a major impediment for many, meaning that most films are made by people already favored by American society with cultural and financial capital. QWOCMAP removes those structural barriers. Additionally, very few arts organizations include diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts as vital components of their work. Access and accessibility of all kinds has been at the center of QWOCMAP’s mission since its inception.

Says Lim, “If we center the needs of those who are most vulnerable among us, then we include everyone.”


Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project

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Founding Executive Director: Madeleine Lim


Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP) uses film to shatter stereotypes and bias, reveal the lived truth of inequality, and build community around art and activism.

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