BGDM Honored by SFFILM at Essential SF 2024 Celebration

Lissa Deonarain • May 8, 2024

Video by A.K. Sandhu

Brown Girls Doc Mafia was honored by SFFILM at the 2024 Essential SF celebration, their ongoing compendium of the Bay Area film community’s most vital figures and institutions. Ursula Liang, the Vice President of BGDM's Board of Directors, accepted the honor on the organization's behalf, after a powerful introduction from BGDM member Betsy Tsai.

"I think it takes a really special kind of fire to get back up every day and dream big — not just for yourself, but also for your people — to get them back up on their feet and dream big with you too," said Tsai, a current SFFILM resident. "I know the Mafia to be a truly, truly special grassroots intervention in our industry to ensure that our peers, including myself and my friends, aren't going to get left behind."

Three BGDM members and a toddler smile in front of the SFFILM neon sign. From left to right, Asian Betsy Tsai, Asian Ursula Liang and her son, and another woman of color.
Betsy Tsai, Ursula Liang and A.K. Sandhu at the SFFILM Essential SF reception (Photo provided by A.K. Sandhu)

"Brown Girls Doc Mafia wouldn't exist if it were not for the power, engagement and participation of a collective," said Liang, fellow BGDM members cheering loudly. "With our [tenth] birthday just on the horizon, it's incredible to witness the change we brought about — but also slightly disturbing to see what hasn't changed at all...but that's not stopping us from forging a path ahead and imagining a better, brighter documentary industry for us all."

Lissa Deonarain
Lissa Deonarain

Lissa Deonarain (she/they) is a queer, disabled, multiracial Guyanese-American documentary filmmaker, editor, communications specialist and producer. She has produced films around the world, and worked with award-winning directors.