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Filmmaker Spotlight: Nicholas Motyka

Posted on November 7, 2019

Nicholas Motyka

What inspired you to make Boiler?

Boiler was originally made for a New York City based film project called, Visible Poetry Project. Visible Poetry gathers about thirty poets and thirty filmmakers linking them up to create a series of short films that visualize poetry. I participated for the first time in 2018 and had noticed that most filmmakers usually structure their films very similarly. The majority of the shorts feature the poem being read in voiceover over aesthetically corresponding images. I decided going into the project in 2019 that I would attempt something radically different. 

I was paired with a friend of mine and a legendary east village based poet Bob Holman. His poetry has a very specific kind of rhythm to it so I took his poem, Boiler, and broke up each line of the poem into dialogue and created characters and a scenario from that. It was sort of like working backwards, having all the dialogue before even knowing who the characters were or what story they’re in. I left the city to go home for Christmas, terribly stressed as I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do. The poetry gave off a suppressed and frustrated angry feeling to me which felt like a particularly American way of being. Especially around the stress of Christmas time. Christmas night I had random caught Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) on TV and the rest of the story crashed together rather quickly from there.  

 

What was the greatest joy or happy surprise while making this film?

The greatest accomplishment to me was definitely that out of the fifty something setups we did, only one insert shot wasn’t used. My cinematographer, Max Mooney, has primarily worked as an editor for the last few years so when we sat down to shot list, we essentially just talked about how it would cut and flow. It’s pretty easy with surrealist content like this to get real wishy washy with how you can shoot it but we took the exact opposite route by knowing every single and exactly how and where it would be used in the final cut.      

 

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film?

The main fear with any project I do is always, is this actually going to work? I’ve made a lot of shorts but that never goes away. Especially because I try to make every film I make different from whatever I did last. With this film in particular though, it was the directing of performances. My goal for the performances was to exclusively direct the emotions of the actors and have them push those emotions through the dialogue. It was a real challenge to try and explain to the actors that by getting the progression of emotions and rhythm of their movements right, they would create the meaning of what they were saying. I think it was pretty tough for them to understand what the hell I was talking about until they finally saw the film. Those four actors are real troopers for going along with it though. If they didn’t, I don’t think the film would’ve been nearly as impactful as it is. 

 

What are one or two of your favorite films? What makes those films great?

This is a real tough one as my favorite film is always changing. I’ll name six that are always circulating as my ‘favorite’: 

Mister Lonely (2007), The Master (2012), Sexy Beast (2000), The Shining (1980), Europa (1991), The Holy Mountain (1973). 

I’m sure by the time I send this answer in I’ll immediately think of other films I probably should’ve put on that list but these films came to mind first so I’ll stick with those for now. 

What makes any film a great film for me is walking away from it being changed. Seeing and looking at things with a new perspective you never could’ve imagined before. Having the film’s aesthetic burned into the way you see the world. I was once told by other filmmakers that by now I’d be disillusioned with cinema but those folks could’ve have been more wrong. It’s still pure magic to me that a series of 2D pictures on a screen can change life as you know it. 

 

What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

An ideal future would be to see more trans and non-binary folks in roles that make no mention of their gender. It is increasingly important that there is always media telling stories of the experience of trans and non-binary people. I also believe that if the world generally saw more trans and non-binary people in media, that was not specifically about their gender but rather just showcasing an actor in an engaging story, we would see a lot more of the hateful people in the world drop their deceased stigmas and reservations against the trans and non-binary community.   

 

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist?

I’m constantly on the hunt for a new project that might catch my interest. Most currently, I’m in postproduction on a short music documentary for a rock band I frequently collaborate with called Floam and I’m beginning preproduction a new comedy/noir short film called, The Big Sweet, that I hope to be shooting by mid-December. I have a line up of other projects I’d like to be working towards but I feel if I mention those too soon they might not happen!

Boiler

Directed by
Nicholas Motyka

PROGRAM 5
Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 4pm
Roxie Theater

A young couple heads home for the holidays to find themselves trapped at a family dinner where awkward tension boils into rage. Featuring Eve Lindley (Mr. Robot) and Malik Reed (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, A Case of Blue).

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sun Nov 10 2019 4:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: NEELU BHUMAN

Posted on November 6, 2019

Neelu Bhuman

Director of “Transfinite”
PROGRAM 1 Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7pm

What inspired you to make Transfinite?

When my six-year-old niece, Aditi Bhuman, was at a temple with her grandmother a few years ago, she asked her grandmother who one of the statues was. “That is
Ardhanariswarudu, half woman-half man god,” her grandmother explained. My niece
immediately responded with, “Oh that god is just like Neelu Atha.” The seed of the idea for Transfinite to celebrate these everyday joyful moments is rooted in this real life experience.

I am painfully aware that the majority of films centering trans and gender diverse people of colour focus on trauma, death, or ridicule and I wanted to make work that focuses on the strength, resilience, beauty, joy, intelligence, difference and love that trans* people of colour have been bringing to this world. With all the bigotry dividing humans in every way possible, my intention was to create a platform for collaboration, connection, healing, and empowerment through art making. I chose the omnibus format because it beautifully reflects the prismatic nature of our multicultural communities in all their intersectional glory.

 

What was the greatest joy or happy surprise while making this film?

The greatest joy was bringing this kickass group of majorly talented trans and gender
diverse people of color together to pop out this radiant child called TRANSFINITE.
Among many, here are a few happy surprises: witnessing the enthusiasm and growth in myself and many of my collaborators. For example, Lida Vala, did not even want to
engage at first because she has never written a screenplay before, after a bit of coaxing she jumped in and now she is actively writing and pitching projects. Similarly, Ryka Aoki didn’t think she’d make a great actress and now she’s afraid everyone will think she’s old because she played the lead role of Japanese-American Grandma so fabulously; and to work with Blossom C. Brown on her first film acting role was pure joy. Another massive surprise is how smoothly everything went considering I worked on production in CA, post-production in London and South India with vastly different teams – saying a big fuck you to all the dreadfully terrifying indie filmmaking stories. Lastly, it continues to expand the Transfinite family around the world reflecting my life as a perpetual immigrant artist.

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film? Greatest challenge was repeatedly overcoming self-doubt and uncertainties during production while having absolutely no financial support. One of my main fears was about who and what I would lose by making something so radically different. It was a constant internal fight to calm myself by reminding myself that most people probably won’t give a shit and the film will go unnoticed. In terms of the film “industry” and mainstream LGBTQ+ press, Transfinite has achieved this. In terms of POC, trans, gender diverse community, I am beyond grateful to hear how the film has inspired and put so many under a magic spell. In line with the generally pervading trans*fear, I was afraid of the sheer violence it might evoke from bigoted audiences.

 

What are one or two of your favorite films? What makes those films great

1957 Telugu film Mayabazaar from my childhood is my all time favorite, it is the first film that introduced me to the absolutely playful seduction of spontaneous switching of genders. Since then I have been convinced that bending gender in whichever way one wishes given the context is the ultimate superpower. Smile. You know, like so much of the sea life – from limpets, anemones, corals, fish – slugs, frogs, snakes, butterflies, birds and lobsters, the list goes on.

 

What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

I want our future in the media to be beyond representation, to be of freedom and power to choose how we engage with it.

 

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist?

Begging. LOL. As my thumbi D’Lo reminded me, I am good at it. Though not seen as
overtly sexy, I will be putting my efforts into becoming a better beggar – for funding, for
collaborators and subjects for my next project. I am hoping to attend IDFA 2019 in
November to learn about bringing an urgent trans* themed docu-fiction film idea into
fruition.

Transfinite

Directed by
Neelu Bhuman

PROGRAM 1
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7pm
Roxie Theater

A sci-fi omnibus feature film composed of seven standalone magical short stories where supernatural trans and queer people from various cultures use their powers to protect, love, teach, fight and thrive.

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Thu Nov 7 2019 7:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Navid Mashayekhi

Posted on November 6, 2019

Navid Mashayekhi

What inspired you to make Unbecoming?

When it comes to documentaries, subjects related to personal life, gender and sexuality have always been fascinating to me. I always knew that I want the subject of at least my first film to be about the LGBTQ+ community. And I personally believe that the trans and non-binary folks definitely need a louder voice, not only in the media and in society in general, but even within the LGBTQ+ community itself. With that in mind, I started looking for trans individuals who were eager to tell their stories through my project. So, I put flyers all over downtown Toronto, I posted my idea on different social media platforms, and I eventually connected with the Pride Toronto organization, which is a not-for-profit organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community of the city of Toronto and beyond. They were extremely helpful by sharing my flyer on their social media page and connecting me with potential subjects for the short documentary. I was flattered by the number of emails I received from trans and non-binary individuals, with beautiful and inspiring stories, who wanted to participate in the project. I chose around ten of those to meet in person and I remember that Logan was the fourth and the last person that I met. Although each person I met or heard from had amazing stories to share, the second I heard about Logan’s journey I knew I had no choice other than to tell this wonderful and inspiring story to the world.

 

What was the greatest joy or happy surprise while making this film?

I was not expecting this project to have such an important effect on me as a person and on my personal life to be honest. Alongside the film, I not only learned more about the trans and non-binary community and their struggles, I also learned a lot from Logan as an individual. I myself was dealing with a bit of depression and an anxiety disorder within the year previous to directing Unbecoming. Getting close to Logan, becoming friends with him and watching him be the positive, hopeful and strong person that he is, taught me how to deal with a lot of my own problems that I was struggling with at the moment.

 

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film?

Identifying as a cis-gender person myself, in the early stages of directing Unbecoming, I often had the fear of not being able to show the true essence of Logan’s journey. There was this whisper in the back of my head asking me “Are you really the perfect person to tell this story?”. Fortunately, with time and by getting myself much much more involved in the trans community and by including Logan himself in the process of finishing the project, I finally got the confidence that “I AM the right person to tell this story”, and I’m very glad that I did.

 

What are one or two of your favorite films? What makes those films great?

Rather than naming a films, I personally prefer to mention directors. One of the directors that I greatly appreciate has always been the one and only Agnès Varda, who unfortunately passed away recently. Her ability to touch such serious subjects, such as feminist issues, with her unique sense of humour and her talent in making a very educating but at the same time super entertaining (even funny at times) project was always mesmerizing for me.

 

What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

As I mentioned, I have always believed that trans and non-binary folks are definitely in need of a stronger visibility in the media and a louder voice in our society. In the past two decades, we have seen how stronger rolls for gay and lesbian individuals in the media could help with a better acceptance of such communities in the society. People are scared of the unknown. In general, as humans, we are not comfortable with the unfamiliar and with what we haven’t seen often before. Media can play a huge roll in helping with the acceptance of minorities in the society, and the trans and non-binary folks are without a doubt one of the most in need of a stronger voice in our day and time.

 

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist?

I am for sure planning to continue making documentaries. Right now, there are two seperate stories that I’m very excited to tell through my next projects and they are in the stages of research and development. When will they get to the stage of shooting and editing depends on a lot of things, including a budget to be honest. I shot, edited and produced Unbecoming myself on a zero-budget but doing that again without funding may be a bit challenging. You never know though 🙂

Unbecoming

Directed by
Navid Mashayekhi

PROGRAM 3
Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7pm
Roxie Theater

We all try to be something, to become someone. Unbecoming chronicles the life of Logan, as he fights to “unbecome” everything he’s been until now, that wasn’t really him in the first place, as we follow his story from early childhood, to a traumatic adolescence, and beyond.

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sat Nov 9 2019 7:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Popo Fan

Posted on November 6, 2019

Popo Fan

Director of “The Drum Tower”
PROGRAM 6 Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 6pm

What inspired you to make The Drum Tower?

I was totally inspired by the two talented transgender actor/actress. I worked with Xiaomi in my previous documentary Papa Rainbow, and met Kacchan at the screening of the same film. Even though neither of them is “professional”, but I just couldn’t help to image them in a film. Then I wrote this script. The idea in the beginning was just a coming of age love story, but while I was doing research for the script, I was fascinated by the change of the city. Many small businesses in Beijing are shut down, a lot of people are kicked out from the city. They are the most marginalized groups in our society, same as transgender community, So I tried to have both of the topics included, giving each other an echo.

 

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film?

Before shooting, we talked a lot with the art department about how to make the blocking of Xiaomi’s shop looks more realistic, but suddenly she really got a notice to close down her shop (so the notice you see in the film was for real). Then we started to worry that we have to shoot it before it shut. Also we were shooting in the hottest days in Beijing, there were so many mosquitos around us. I really appreciate everyone who helped in this project.

 

What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

In my film I made Kacchan, a transgender person to play a cis-gender role. Because in the film industry there is a big cliché of having cis-gender people play transgender role. Why it doesn’t happen the other round more? I hope one day we can break the boundary of gender in the film and media industry. In order to reach that, we need to put more diverse of questions and challenges on the way.

 

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist?

I’m preparing two new short films. One of them is a porn against racism.

The Drum Tower

Directed by
Popo Fan

PROGRAM 6
Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 6pm
Roxie Theater

The first film in China where all the leading performers are trans, concerns the chance encounter of a student escaping from classes and a magical vintage clothing shop.

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sun Nov 10 2019 6:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: JOSE ALFREDO GARCIA

Posted on November 6, 2019

JOSE ALFREDO GARCIA

Director of “Sweet & Tender Hooligan”
PROGRAM 3 Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7pm

What inspired you to make Sweet & Tender Hooligan? 

I have been working on this idea for a while now. It is a subject that is close to my life and a journey that I feel needs to be taken. It is my coming out film as a LBGTQ Latinx director. 

What was the greatest joy or happy surprise while making this film? 

The Greatest thing is the people who are making this film with me really believe in the work and my vision and that makes me feel really good and supported.

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film? 

The Greatest challenge is time while in production getting all the coverage I need to make a great piece.

What are one or two of your favorite films? 

“I am Cuba”, “Fahrenheit 451” by Truffaut   

What makes those films great?

with ” I am Cuba” I went on a journey I have never been on in film. Knowing what I know about making films the shots in the movie with the resources they had at the time are incredible and masterful, some of the greatest films of today cannot compare even with all the modern technology.  With “Fahrenheit 451” I was very into the book and reading when I was young which lead to my love of filmmaking , the book was an amazingly chilling representation of a future that is not inconceivable. The main actress Julie Christie was very talented in pulling off playing both a protagonist and antagonist in the same film.

What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

I would hope that it becomes a mainstream fixture of our society instead of being on the fringes. I would hope that all marginalized parts of society such as women, people of color and the LBGTQ community would become so common place that we no longer see the color or sexuality or gender of a person just what they are as a human being.  

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist? 

I am in the process of turning “Sweet and tender Hooligan” into a feature film.

Sweet & Tender Hooligan

Directed by
Jose Alfredo Garcia

PROGRAM 3
Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7pm
Roxie Theater

A Mixed race teen tries to find his Gender Identity in a Neighborhood with high gang activity, leading up to the powder keg of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sat Nov 9 2019 7:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Malic Amalya

Posted on November 5, 2019

Malic Amalya

What inspired you to make Run!?

I began making “RUN!” around the time that Trump announced banning trans people from serving in the military. Mainstream LGBT activists were protesting for the right to serve in the military, while radical queer organizers, such as https://queertranswarban.wordpress.com/, were responding with sharp anti-military critiques. From a queer, anti-war perspective, “RUN!” uses a nonlinear film structure to examine how military ideology and technology shapes civilian life. 

 

What was the greatest joy or happy surprise while making this film?

The greatest joy of making “RUN!” has been collaborating with the cast, crew, and 16mm lab technicians. So many talented people came together to make this film happen, and it’s been incredible to see how their skills and ideas have shaped the film.

 

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film?

As labs have had to phase out of various technologies, filming and finishing on 16mm has been stressful and technically complicated. I am very grateful to all the labs for their patience with this project. 

 

What are one or two of your favorite films? What makes those films great?

Two of my favorite experimental 16mm films are “The Dragon is the Frame” by Mary Helena Clark and “Reckless Eyeballing” by Christopher Harris. I show them to my students at least once per semester and find myself completely immersed in the ideas and mesmerized by the structure, images, and sound design each time. 

 

What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

Every trans and non-binary person who wants to make films should have access to the tools and resources to do so!

 

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist?

“RUN!” is the first film in a series of “mythographies” of US colonialism, tourism, white supremacy, and the global climate chaos. I will be filming at Alcatraz this winter. 

I will also continue to collaborate with Nathan Hill, as part of the audio/visual project “Vitreous Chamber.”

RUN!

Directed by
Malic Amalya

PROGRAM 6
Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 6pm
Roxie Theater

RUN! is a mythography of nuclear technology, pesticides, and the question of transgender individuals fighting in the United State’s military. Filmed at the Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was detonated, along the edges of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, at the abandoned Black Hole Museum of Nuclear Waste.

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sun Nov 10 2019 6:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: MARROK SEDGWICK

Posted on November 4, 2019

Marrok Sedgwick

Director of “People Like Me”
PROGRAM 6 Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 6pm

What inspired you to make People Like Me?

People Like Me grew out of a desire to document the autistic community perspective on applied behavioral analysis. Too often, nonspeaking autistic people’s voices are erased from conversations about what curricula and interventions should be used with/on them. Many people are unaware of the complexity of what it means to be a nonspeaking person (for example, that a person might be able to speak some of the time, and not be able to other times, and that this can part of being autistic, independent of other potential reasons). Finally, my own experiences working in special education environments led me to see how deeply connected to the preschool to prison pipeline these issues are, and so I felt it was necessary to connect the narratives we each tell to the greater social issues at stake.

 

What was the greatest joy or happy surprise while making this film?

My greatest joy was investigating ways that I can translate autistic culture and ways of being into film techniques. For example, one of my stims (stims are repetitive things autistic people do to self regulate) is to stare at the ocean. It calms me because it moves back and forth and has pleasant textures and colors. Many autistic people will stim when they are upset (although we also might stim when we’re processing any strong emotion or sensory experience, whether it is positive or negative as well as just for fun). So I used stimming on the ocean as a means to allow audience members the time to process descriptions of the abusive acts committed against students in behaviorist classrooms.

 

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film?

The greatest challenge was honoring the complexity of both the systems (systems of special education, systems of behaviorism, systems of people who represent autistic culture–which of course is not nearly as monolithic as a 20 minute film makes it seem) and my collaborators and my personhood. My fear is that people might use the film in some way to further oppress autistic people. I think given the time allowed (that 20 minute length), I did a pretty good job working with these complexities, and only time can tell what will happen with regards to my fear.

 

What are one or two of your favorite films? What makes those films great?

My favorite film is Atanarjuat, directed by Zacharias Kunuk. I love it because it weaves Inuit culture into a narrative film, making it a hybrid between documentary and narrative. It also moves slowly, has a lot of footage of really beautiful landscapes (which I like to stim on), and has a little bit of everything (humor, drama, horror, romance). I strive to be able to so fluidly weave the documentation of culture into narrative. Of course, People Like Me is a documentary, so no part of it is fictional, but I did get to interweave aspects of autistic culture that only autistic people will likely pick up on in viewing it, in addition to those aspects that all audiences are explicitly taught in the film.

 

What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

My film represents my ideal future. I want transgender and non binary people to be represented in every aspect of media, regardless of whether the stories being told are explicitly focused on something that a gender theorist or activist for trans and non binary folks’ rights might claim as a “trans or non binary issue.” We aren’t one-issue people. We are all human, which means we live at various intersections (in my film’s case, disability and race). When the mainstream media makes every trans or non binary story about being trans or non binary, it erases our complex personhood, the complexity of our lives, and the systemic oppressions that act on many of us from multiple angles. I also want to see more transgender directors (like me) getting work, period!

 

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist?

My primary focus right now is getting a PhD (I am studying Learning Sciences at University of Illinois at Chicago). My current research is an extension of that which I did to support People Like Me, especially looking at ways that educational environments affect the identity of nonspeaking students (including, but not limited to, autistic students), what educational opportunities nonspeaking students are given, and the development of voice through multiliteracies (reading and writing aren’t the only texts in our modern film/video-, photography-, visual art/design-, and technology- heavy society). The goal is to develop curricula that empower nonspeaking students to have self determination skills that will help them communicate things beyond basic needs. I’ve only just started my PhD, so my research will likely evolve in various ways over the next 5-7 years, but the core goal is to come up with actionable curricula that give students the opportunity to develop their own voices, to give them opportunities to showcase their complex personhood, and to push for educational opportunities that are not intended to simply make them behave in a way that someone has arbitrarily decided is “normal.” On the side, when I have time, I am trying to complete a young adult science fiction novel that is a meditation on universally designed futures and the agency of nonspeaking youth (strongly featuring a non binary character), and another short documentary film, about the protest in front of the White House that you see glimpses of in People Like Me.

People Like Me

Directed by
Marrok Sedgwick

PROGRAM 6
Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 6pm
Roxie Theater

A film about autism acceptance told from the hands of nonspeaking autistic people.

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sun Nov 10 2019 6:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Sarah Hill

Posted on November 2, 2019

Sarah Hill

What inspired you to make Mark?

Literature and visual art have always been fodder for my work. The project started when I read the book Trumpet by Jackie Kay, which is about a trans Jazz musician. I thought the book was extremely cinematic. The language in the novel was apt for visual story telling. The building of history in Trumpet reminded me of Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman which builds on historical erasure and absence.  I wanted to continue in this tradition of giving voice to those who have been erased or not recorded in history. 

 

What was the greatest joy or happy surprise while making this film? 

While making Mark my Grandpa passed away. He played the friend in Mark. Our conversation featured in Mark was one of the last conversations we had in person. I feel extremely lucky that we got to film together. 

 

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film?

Mark is extremely different from the work I have made in the past, where I am the main/only character. I have never worked with this many people, which pushed me as a maker. I have so much gratitude for everyone that was a part of this film, and the time they spent constructing their own image of Mark.  

 

What are one or two of your favorite films? What makes those films great?

Daisies, Věra Chytilová – I love the sense of chaos, destruction, and freedom that is conveyed with beauty and dignity in this film. 

A Tale of Two Sisters,Kim Jee-woon – I love how color is used to set the mood and tone throughout the film. 

 

What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

I think that there could always be more diversity in the depictions of trans and non-binary representation in the media. 

 

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist?

I am working on a short film Called Goodbye Rebecca & Eileen which features parts of my MFA thesis. I see it as collaboration with myself in the past and potentially the future. The horror film is about my experience with top surgery.  

Mark

Directed by
Sarah Hill

PROGRAM 5
Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 4pm
Roxie Theater

Who was Mark? We know Mark was a Husband, Father, Friend, Patient, and a Musician, despite limited scholarly writing about his life. Created through this absence, Mark is a cinematic, non-linear, historical fiction account of a Trans masculine musician who might have existed.

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sun Nov 10 2019 4:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Ilana Garcia-Mittleman

Posted on November 1, 2019

Ilana Garcia-Mittleman

What inspired you to make Femenina?

 My entire life I’ve never been able to really relate to love stories because I’ve never seen people like me in film. The love stories I have seen involving trans characters are always tragedies (and more often than not played by CIS men). I made Femenina because this is the beginning of a love story that I have always needed. One where someone like me is loved for who they are and not objectified because of what they are. 

 

What was the greatest joy or happy surprise while making this film?

The greatest surprise making Femenina was that I, a nonathletic trans woman who didn’t really know anything about boxing, could successfully write and direct a film about boxing! 

 

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film?

Like any piece of film there is always the fear that no one will like it. I am, to our best knowledge, the first transgender woman at the University of Texas at Austin to write and direct an undergraduate thesis film. It was daunting having to appeal my film to a largely heterosexual and CIS group of peers. But once I knew I had them in my pocket, when they were just as invested in Femenina as I was, I knew my film would speak for itself. 

 

What are one or two of your favorite films? What makes those films great?

Choosing a favorite film is such a hard question to ask a film major. There are films and directors who I respect immensely for their technical ability, others for their storytelling, and some just because they are stupid but they make me feel good. Off the top of my head in this very moment I would say Assassination Nation and Annihilation are two of my favorite movies. Assassination Nation is amazing because it features a trans woman played by a trans actress who has a meaningful arc. This very well may have been the first film in my 24 years of life where I could so closely relate to a character in film. Annihilation is awesome because Natalie Portman is just amazing. But seriously, this film scared the shit out of me in the theater but was also deep and thought provoking. 



What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

The future for trans and non-binary media is what I’m trying to do with Femenina. It’s the normalization of trans/non-binary faces and narratives. I am a firm believer that media is the key to social change. While some people reject the social learning theory I believe that media does influence how we treat one another and function in society.  With the inclusion of more trans folk playing roles about the trans experience, I believe we can refocus the lens through which society views our community. 

 

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist?

What’s next is such a hard question. There’s what I have to do and what I want to do. I have to work at a taco place right now so I can pay rent and survive. But what I want to do is write and be the show-runner for my own TV series (ambitious, yes. But I gotta have dreams ok) that focuses on trans/queer people. I want to tell stories about my experience as a trans woman so that other trans or non-binary people have an outlet. Something they can turn to for comfort or guidance. I want to create the media for other people that I feel like I’ve been missing my entire life.

Feminina

Directed by
Ilana Garcia-Mittleman

PROGRAM 4
Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 9pm
Roxie Theater

A dedicated boxer is forced to confront his sexuality after he begins training with and falling for a transgender woman.

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sat Nov 9 2019 9:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Nour Hajar

Posted on October 31, 2019

Nour Hajar

Director of “Feeling Like An Orchid”
PROGRAM 3 Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7pm

What inspired you to make Feeling Like an Orchid?

Feeling Like an Orchid was written by our lead performer Morticia Godiva, who I asked to collaborate with me for the March installment of my Good/Fast/Cheap Series for 2018. The series was a way to push me to create more often, by making a new short film come hell or high water each month for a year. My initial impulse was to craft a dance film having been a fan of Morticia’s work with Pedestrian Wanderlust, but then Morticia handed me a script with a humorous and celebratory energy, and we decided to shoot the script and still weave in the dancing.

 

What was the greatest joy or happy surprise while making this film?

It was truly joyful to waltz around the Brooklyn Botanic Garden filming Morticia catwalk through the flora.

 

What was the greatest challenge or fear while making this film?

My greatest fear came true as we shot the majority of the script in one day, and my DP called out sick. Because there was virtually no camera crew, I had to step in on the fly and shoot everything on my iPhone.

 

What is your ideal future for trans and non-binary representation in media?

I just want to see MORE and I want to see the diversity WITHIN the trans and non-binary experience represented and celebrated. 

 

What’s next for you as a filmmaker or as an artist?

My focus for now is on writing more, more often.

Feeling Like An Orchid

Directed by
Nour Hajar

PROGRAM 3
Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7pm
Roxie Theater

Peek into the life of Morticia and her significant others D and Twon. While they find dating can be tricky even within the queer, trans, and POC communities, this open throuple navigates those awkward encounters knowing back home they will always reaffirm their love for one another.

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sat Nov 9 2019 7:00PM” from the drop down menu.