Masterminds 2013: Artist of the Day, Melinda James

Categories: Art, Artopia
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Who are today's most promising emerging artists? Each year, SF Weekly finds 10 of them for our Masterminds issue. You'll be able to see these artists and their work up close at Artopia on Thursday, Feb. 21, at SOMArts Cultural Center.

That night we'll also announce the three artists who will receive grants. Come out and meet them. But first, get to know their work.

See Also: Masterminds 2013: Artist of the Day, Kellen Breen

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Josh Edelson

Into the Unknown:

Melinda James

A star yo-yo player who twirls his disk on a street in Santa Cruz. A young Oakland singer who waxes poetic about a broken relationship. A community of African-Americans focused on farming and food issues.

Bandalore from About Her Films on Vimeo.

The Bay Area residents in Melinda James' films have important things to say, but they often don't say them in popular media. James is trying to change that with nonfiction works that reveal the everyday lives of women and under-explored communities.

"As a queer woman of color, my stories are often left out of the discourse of mainstream experiences," says James, 27, who graduated last year from UC Santa Cruz with a master's in social documentation and now lives in Oakland.

"By discovering filmmaking I found a way to not only share my story, but also the stories and images of other marginalized groups whose voices are unrecognized."

"16 Seeds" Trailer from About Her Films on Vimeo.

James' production company, About Her Films, already seems poised for bigger things. About Her, a short drama about a burgeoning lesbian relationship, screened at Framelines San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. Meanwhile, 16 Seeds, her short documentary about food activism in Oakland and in San Francisco's Bayview district, and Bandalore, about that yo-yo master, have shown at other Bay Area venues.

Other stylish videos of singers and musicians are finding a home on the Internet. Incorporating slow-motion and savvy musical backgrounds, James' films have both style and substance.

"I'm trying," she says, "to reach out to different communities instead of just creating films that my friends would like."

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