Kelly O

In a very short period of time, Sandy Cioffi, a highly regarded filmmaker and educator, has become an expert in a field that is new and will certainly revolutionize not just entertainment but journalism and the arts: virtual reality.

It takes only a brief conversation with her about VR to see her mind is ahead of the pack—thinking and communicating things that will sound totally normal in the future. "Moving through 3-D space is a whole other leap of language. For example, movement artists are absolutely suited for the HTC Vive," she says, referring to a high-end VR headset. (The one that's in her hand in this photograph is not a Vive but a Samsung Gear VR, which at this very moment contains many of the films that were shown at Seattle International Film Festival's ambitious SIFFX program, which Cioffi helped organize.)

Cioffi has a reputation for not only thinking big but also getting involved in groundbreaking projects. She and a film team once got arrested and detained by the Nigerian government for making a documentary about the oil-rich and oil-destroyed Niger Delta. She lived to tell that story. She also produced one of Seattle's first gay independent films, Crocodile Tears, which celebrated its 20th anniversary during the Twist of Pride Film Festival.

What are Cioffi's plans for Pride weekend? "I'll be attending everything, including Trans Pride, which feels like real Pride in some ways—plus it's on Capitol Hill, which feels more important than ever. And just like every year since 1989 in New York, I'll cry when PFLAG marches by in the Pride Parade, and I'll feel the amount of self-hatred STILL lingering in my body, and I'll feel the simultaneous joy that they and I are still here and a whole hell of a lot of young people are queer in a slightly more loving world!" Amen.

Sandy Cioffi's work will be celebrated at the free Stranger Genius Awards party on September 24 at the Moore Theatre. Five artists will go home with $5,000 each, no strings attached. To see all 15 nominees, go to thestranger.com/genius2016.