This year’s submission and selection process for the films that will be portrayed at TranScreen is still on-going. Regardless, here is a list of some films and documentaries that were showcased in last year’s edition of the festival to give you an idea of the subjects they cover and what you can expect this year.
Maria Luiza (2019) directed by Marcelo Diaz and produced by Diazul de Cinemais a Brazilian documentary that tells the story of, as the name says, Maria. Since she was a child, she never identified herself as a boy, which lead her to go through depression and drop out of school. Being in love with airplanes as she always had, at age 18, she enlisted in the Air Force and began a 22-year journey as a military aircraft mechanic in Brasilia, during which she got married and had a daughter but holding back her true identity became unbearable for Maria. She got divorced and started embracing her female identity and in 2000, she was retired after being considered “unfit” for military service. Five years later, she underwent a sex reassignment surgery and by 2007, she had changed her name and gender in all her legal documents. However, she never got to fulfill her dream of being in service wearing the female military uniform.
This documentary strikes us with important questions and struggles that trans people still have to go through nowadays. In what way did Maria’s skills and knowledge changed after deciding to identify as transgender in order for the military to retire her? The answer is in absolutely no way, which leads us to question if it is actually possible for humans to exist without prejudice.
Saturday Church (2018) directed by Damon Cardasis tells the story of Ulysses, a 14-year-old struggling with gender identity and religion. He lives with his mother, Amara and a younger brother and is looked after by his Aunt Rose while his mother works. He is bullied at school and threatened by his aunt for his feminine characteristics. One night, Ulysses meets a group of transgender and gay people who invite him to Saturday Church, hence the name of the movie, where a program to feed and provide shelter to LGBT youths takes place every Saturday. Ulysses starts immersing himself into this world and develops a passion for voguing causing him to get beaten up by his aunt and running away from home. Without food and shelter, he seeks help at Saturday church but finds it closed since its Wednesday, causing him to take desperate measures to eat and have some money. Eventually and after desperately trying to find him, Ulysses reunites with his mother who shows him her unconditional love and support.
This movie showcases a reality and even though we don’t see it much, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Children struggle with gender issues and find themselves extremely confused and scared because, sadly, it is frowned upon. Films like this can be a haven for anyone who may be feeling or going through something similar and can help them find the courage to be and accept themselves in this harsh society we live in. Saturday Church won the first place for Best Feature Film at TranScreen 2019 and is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
Missed connections (2017) written and directed by Michelle Sam and produced by Angelica Ross, won first place for Best Short Film at TranScreen 2019. It is a black transgender love story, where two strangers meet at a festival but forget to exchange information. “As they search for each other, they navigate their lives, careers and society’s expectations of them as black, female and transgender”
Transfinite (2019) is a sci-fi film composed of seven different stories in which supernatural trans and queer people from various cultures use their powers to protect, love, teach, fight and thrive. In Transfinite, the protagonists choose to find their inner power and use it to transform undesirable situations into desirable ones. It is dark and funny as well as visually and musically expressive. Even though it is made up of seven stories, all of them are connected by the common thread of power. Power to protect, power to love, power to teach, fight and thrive. Moreover, this powerful film won third place in the category of Best Feature Film at TranScreen 2019.
Calamity (2017) by Maxine Fyers and Severine De Streyker is a twenty-two-minute film that also won second place in the category for Best Short Film at last year’s festival. The plot revolves around Romain, who takes his girlfriend Cléo for the first time to a family dinner after his mother, France, insisted. Unexpectedly, Cléo’s presence will make Romain’s mother lose control.
As you can see, you can expect to find a variety of films at TranScreen, each one telling a different story but all of them with one common subject in mind: Trans awareness. Submission for this year’s edition of the festival ends February 1st which means we should be able to learn more about this year’s program soon. Don’t miss it!