Welcome to the Sex Worker Fest!

After taking a brief hiatus from our last festival in 2021 due to COVID and other serious tribulations,We are excited to announce we are now planning the next Festival for 2023!

The San Francisco Bay Area Sex Workers Film and Arts Festival is a biennial event, established in 1999 to provide a forum for the accomplishments of sex worker film and video makers and to screen works about sex workers and the sex industries from around the world. The Sex Worker Festival provides an opportunity to recognize and honor prostitutes, dancers, porn performers and other sex workers, who have historically been a dynamic part of arts communities.

To date, the Sex Worker Festivals have screened many hundreds of hours of videos and generated much interest in the media. See our archives (in progress) at http://www.sexworkerfest.com/videos/

Films and videos for the Sex Worker Festival focus on sex workers' rights; organizing efforts and working conditions for dancers; global sex work and sex work as a labor issue on the international agenda; sex workers as artists; anti-racism and anti-oppression in sex worker communities; sex work and gender identities focusing on LGB/transgender/queer sex workers; sex education, sex art, porn and erotica; and portraits of strippers, prostitutes, dommes, madams and more. We encourage diverse participation, diverse perspectives emphasizing under-represented voices in our movements and communities.

For those who don't know, our beloved curator and close friend, Laure McElroy, passed away in August 2018. Director Erica Fabulous and founder Carol Leigh worked with many with local sex worker artists to support the Sex Worker Festival in 2019, on it's 20th Anniversary (launched in 1999). Through the last several years, Carol Leigh has been managing cancer, then COVID happened. Our organizers took a break, but are back and planning for a 2023 Festival.

Our last festival season included events such as a marathon screening day at the Roxie, an opening event at Artists Television Access, a screening with Failed Films at Dungeon Art Gallery and online screenings for those unable to make it in-person (all films screened online had explicit permissions from filmmakers). Theatrical director and performer, Jovelyn Richards presented a rare ensemble performance on Friday night. The festival concluded with our highlight event for sex workers, Whore's Bath, which has proudly grown to events featured around the country. We are excited to see what events the new festival season produces and hope to see you and your submissions there!

You can contact us directly for more information at sexworkerfest@gmail.com.

Qualifying Entries:
Films and videos must be:
1) directed or produced by someone who has worked in the sex industries;
2) about any aspect of sex work.
Please note: We are interested in art, experimental work, music videos, narratives, documentaries and all works that challenge stigmatizing stereotypes regarding prostitution and other forms of sex work. If your work does not fit into this description, please don't submit it.

Upon filmmakers consent, all such works will be included in our location-based library of films about sex work, available for researchers and activists. http://www.sexworkermedialibrary.org/about

A separate application must accompany each work.

The next Festival will be in 2023. The first deadline for the 2023 Festival will be in late winter/ early spring of 2023. The festival usually sponsors ongoing screenings at festivals around the world and formerly accepted work on an ongoing basis, but we are waiting until planning.

Entry Fees:
A separate entry fee and application form is needed for each work. The entry fees are:
First deadline (postmarked by March 1, 2023) $10.00 for the first film or video, and $5.00 for each additional film or video up to 3 total submissions. Additional submissions can be made in consultation with the festival organizers.

The second deadline (April 1, 2023) $15.00 for the first film or video, and $10.00 for each additional film or video up to 3 total submissions. Additional submissions can be made in consultation with the festival organizers.

Checks or money orders should be in U.S. funds. Entry fees will be waived based on financial need upon request. Fees are waived if needed (email us), and always for makers in developing countries with no access to US dollar currencies.

Screening: Preferred: Quicktime files (high quality h.264)

Preview- Preferred- 1) web links for viewing online

Also accepted for screening by special arrangement: DVD, Film-16, or 35mm

Language and Accessibility:
We encourage all submissions to include subtitles (in English) to ensure all our attendees can experience your film and videos. If you have difficulty doing so, please reach out to the festival to coordinate how we can add subtitles to the submission.

Foreign language film and video should be made available with the original language soundtrack and English subtitles, however we may consider works in that have not been subtitled (by prior arrangement only).

Entries will be reviewed by festival curating director and production team. We will notify all entrants of acceptance beginning May 1st. Post-deadline submissions (by prior arrangement) will be handled on individual basis.

Mailing Information:
Include address label on both tape and container. Movies must be shipped prepaid and packed in proper containers to arrive at the Sex Worker Fest office. DO NOT send films for preview. Do not send submissions in fiber-filled envelopes, as the dust damages equipment.

If a FILM is invited to participate, the film must be shipped prepaid, insured and packed in proper containers. FILM media is only accepted by prior arrangement. The San Francisco Bay Area Sex Worker Festival will be responsible for return shipping charges for 16 and 35mm films only when pre-arranged with the filmmaker. The Sex Worker Fest will not pay for international shipping for domestic films (USA). The Sex Worker Fest does not assume any liability for damage to prints due to improper containers or otherwise. 16 mm and 35 mm films (only) in our possession must be insured by the film maker against damage or loss while participating in the festival.

Upon acceptance, film cassettes and videos sent from outside the United States must be accompanied by a commercial invoice or b&w, value of shipment and sender's name and address. Cassettes should be marked: 'For Festival Screening Only.'

Publicity Materials:
Materials (photos, image files, etc.) of films and video clips (short promotional excerpts only) selected for screening become the property of the SF Bay Area Sex Worker Fest and can be used to promote SF Bay Area Sex Worker Fest and the programs of SF Bay Area Sex Worker Fest indefinitely, in all mediums including film, television, radio and the internet.

Overall Rating
  • Even without some genuinely upsetting content that made me leave the theater, I didn't find this festival terribly well-run. Where/when the short films were to be screening required some digging and was confusing even as a filmmaker, so it wasn't exactly inviting to the general public just because it was hard to find.

    July 2023
  • Brodin Petrichor

    Great communication from this festival. The organizers were professional and had a great program.

    June 2023
  • Lola Clavo

    Great and important festival! Keep doing the work!!

    September 2019
  • Kase Pena

    Thankful that such a film festival exist! This is so important especially to give space to a community who's stories are either not told, or when told, not told well. Thank you San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival and please continue to build on what you have so far.

    July 2019
  • James Mileham

    Brilliant festival! Fantastic communication and event 10/10

    June 2019