Transgender Film Festival Pushes Boundaries of What's Typical On Screen
The fourth annual Los Angeles Transgender Film Festival, held November 2 to 4, featured an impressive collection of shorts and feature-length films aimed at expanding the conventional, tragic narrative often seen in stories about trans identities.
Featuring three feature films and 24 short films from six different countries, the 2012 LATFF boasted near-capacity crowds at all its screenings of work by transgender, genderqueer, and intersex filmmakers. And its stories are the type that deserve amplifying during this Transgender Awareness Week.
The first day's feature presentation was queer filmmaker Cheryl Dunye's erotic romantic comedy set in Berlin called Mommy Is Coming. Dunye's film tackles the taboo of mother-daughter sex, which Dunye said is an unintentional thread running through several of her films, including her landmark debut The Watermelon Woman. Mommy also breaks out of the confines of genre, blending graphic, erotic sex scenes with comedic narrative, actor interviews, and social commentary. It's a steamy film that had more than a few in the audience fanning their faces to hide blushing cheeks.
Screening before Dunye's film was an erotic short by Don Bapst, simply titled Chris. Recounting the gay director's first time having sex with a transgender man, the camera stays tightly focused on a scruffy, underwear-clad man as he rolls about seductively on a bed. Laid over the visuals is speech in both English and French, forcing the audience to challenge themselves to understand identity, language, and presumptions they have about the roles these two men play. It's an honest, thoughtful short, that seemed well-received by the audience.
Sunday's events, held at The Workmen's Circle in West Los Angeles, featured a short film program delving into the artistic imaginations of trans and genderqueer storytellers. The evening wrapped with a screening of the experimental documentary Against A Trans Narrative, Jules Rosskam's thought-provoking examination of generational divides, gender identity, and relational dynamics as they relate to trans folk, people of color, members of various social classes, ages, political bents and orientations. The film was followed up by a lively panel discussion featuring an impressive cross-section of trans folk from each of these various strata.
Now that the festival is complete, it's preparing to hit the road as LATFF tours high schools, colleges, and community organizations around the country. Get more information about LATFF via its website. On the following pages, watch trailers for each of the feature films spotlighted in this year's festival.
Mommy Is Coming, directed by Cheryl Dunye.
By Hook or By Crook, directed by Silas Howard.
Against a Trans Narrative, directed by Jules Rosskam.