From Paris Is Burning to Boy Meets Girl, here are some films to get stuck into this Trans Awareness Week
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY SONY PICTURES
To celebrate this year’s Trans Awareness Week, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best films surrounding trans storylines. Over the past century, trans performers and actors have changed the industry as we know it. You needn’t look much further than Christine Jorgensen in the 1950s.
The current acting industry is full of spectacular trans actors who are truly at the top of their game such as Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Laverne Cox, and Elliot Page. So snuggle up to these films this week to celebrate trans joy and excellence.
This eye-opening documentary is not only a critical exploration of trans representation in Hollywood but also features notable trans actors and advocates, including Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, and Alexandra Billings. This film takes the audience on a history lesson about the representation of the trans community within the media, and the impact it has had on the lived experience of trans people.
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Be prepared to delve into the vibrant world of New York City’s drag ball culture in the late 80s. These real-life characters, such as Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, and Venus Xtravaganza, bring their own unique and compelling stories to the screen. Paris Is Burning is – quite frankly – one of the most important films in LGBTQIA history, and is vital for understanding the world we live in today.
Saturday Church (2017)
In Saturday Church, Luka Kain takes on the role of Ulysses, a young teenager on a transformative journey of self-discovery. Struggling with questions of identity, Ulysses finds solace and community in an unconventional place: a vibrant church that opens its doors to those seeking acceptance and understanding.
As he navigates the complexities of adolescence and his own gender identity, the film weaves a heartwarming tale of empowerment and growth. Supported by a talented cast, including Alexia Garcia, Indya Moore, and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Luka Kain’s performance not only captures the essence of Ulysses’ coming-of-age journey but also makes Saturday Church a captivating and emotionally resonant cinematic experience.
Boy Meets Girl (2014)
In Boy Meets Girl, Michelle Hendley takes centre stage as Ricky, a resilient trans woman striving to find love and acceptance within the confines of a small Kentucky town. As Ricky embarks on her journey of self-discovery and personal growth, she forms a connection with Robby (Michael Welch), a childhood friend struggling with his own feelings for her. This heartwarming romantic comedy challenges societal stereotypes and norms, illustrating the importance of love transcending gender boundaries.
This film was a milestone for the trans community due to its portrayal of a transgender character navigating relationships, dreams, and personal challenges with authenticity.
A Fantastic Woman (2017)
In A Fantastic Woman, the captivating Daniela Vega shines as Marina Vidal, a trans woman grappling with prejudice and personal loss following her partner’s death. The film delves into her resilience and determination as she confronts discrimination and strives for her identity and dignity. Daniela Vega’s performance is not only extraordinary but also historic, as her Oscar presentation marked a groundbreaking moment for trans representation in the film industry.
Transfinite is an anthology film that assembles a richly diverse cast, including talents like Ivanno Jeremiah, Moshe Kasher, and Amanda Plummer. Within this cinematic mosaic, each short film delves into a unique narrative, exploring a multitude of experiences tied to trans and gender-nonconforming individuals.
These tales offer a varied and intricate tapestry, showcasing the diversity of perspectives and challenges faced by this community. The film collectively serves as a platform for storytelling and representation, shedding light on the complexities of trans and gender-nonconforming lives.
Tangerine is a raucous and heartwarming comedy-drama that follows the lives of two trans women, Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor), in the gritty, colourful backdrop of Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. The film primarily revolves around Sin-Dee’s quest to confront her unfaithful boyfriend and the ensuing chaos that unfolds on the streets as secrets are unveiled. Simultaneously, the movie explores the friendship between Sin-Dee and Alexandra as they navigate the challenges of their lives, providing a candid and authentic portrayal of trans women’s experiences in the city.
What makes this film truly unique is its unconventional filming technique – director Sean Baker used iPhones to capture the gritty, vibrant streets of Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. This choice lends the film a raw, documentary-style quality, immersing viewers in the characters’ turbulent journey through the city’s underbelly.
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