Filmmaker, activist, competitive poker player – Kami Chisholm puts her time and effort into several ventures at once, turning feminist filmmaking into an art form and challenging the status quo in whichever direction she chooses. A gender studies professor with a PhD in History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, her films (there are more than a dozen) have been screened the world over at universities, festivals and other events whilst proving that women can come out on top in male dominated areas, be it the film industry or your average poker tournament.
Thanks to Altcinema, which is the production and distribution company for Kami Chisholm, her documentaries and shorts include The Insomniacs, Street Haunting and FtF:Female to Femme, which is a colourful, fun and moving documentary featuring an array of “fabulous femme dykes, including actress/writer Guinivere Turner, rock stars Leslie Mah,” and other artists, dancers, professors and activists. Parody and costume are used to highlight the people and politics around the “gender revolution”.
And then Trigger Warning: *rape, her latest work, has been distributed by the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center (CFMC), offering an intimate dialogue about sexual violence in the queer women's community, told from the perspective of two survivors of sexual assaults from female instigators. The film comes at a time when pro-rape language has become common place on the internet and the subject is at its most discussed. Her work never follows regular patterns, choosing to present the facts, tell the story and create art in ways that critique and highlight key issues for minority women in need of a voice. She pursued an MFA in Film Production at York University and continues to use her talent for the progression of society.
The poker player
Her achievements as a poker player are nothing to sneeze at either. At the time of writing she's ranked 1114th in the California All Time Money List, which puts her at 4,861st place in the United States. She also placed fifth in her first No Limit Hold 'Em World Series bid in the Ladies event back in 2010, and more recently won in the SCOOP Event 4-L Badugi tournament, a first for women. Meanwhile her total online earnings from Partypoker and any other sites she might play on, comes to $425,430. Not bad going in a game that has been dominated by men since its inception.
Kami proves that women are skilled enough to play alongside the greatest poker players and hold their own. When asked about being a woman in a male-dominated field and whether or not she's treated differently for it, she's pretty frank on the subject: “I am a butch lesbian, so my experience is different than a lot of women,” she explained. She went on to say that while her image does work to her advantage in the Ladies Events, she's still able to bond with other women at the table, a bond she's protective of because she's spoken up in the past to keep the Ladies Events free of the opposite gender. Apparently back in 2010 she raised her voice when male player Shaun Deeb sat down at her table. You can understand her reluctance; poker lacked female presence for long enough.
There are many women, Canadian and international, who are a source of inspiration for others. Kami is just one of these figures. One thing you should learn from her: no one ever wins by backing down from what they believe in.