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The Power of Love: Three Trans Stories

  • Wednesday, June 9, 2021
  • 12:00 p.m.
  • Week-long Film Presentation
  • Virtual Program

Streamed June 9 through June 15

Parental love and the inherent right of the entertainer to define their own identity are the common themes that connect these three trans stories. Imparting a collective sense of trans belonging, they represent a range of lived experiences, from the intimacy of performance art and the mother/child bond in Allô Performance to a spirited reckoning with those who chronicle history in No Ordinary Man, to the promise of a chosen family and the liberating release of being on stage in Walk for Me. These relatable stories give us an opportunity to celebrate trans lives and the importance of living honestly. They acknowledge that a nonbinary world was as much a part of the past as it is the way of the future. Special thanks to independent curator KJ Mohr for selecting the films in this program.

Womanon the beach wearing a black dress as a wave crashes in on her legs with closed captioned "You didn't play with trucks just with dolls. So I wasn't a total fool either."

Allô Performance 

Mirha-Soleil Ross and Mark Karbusicky’s short experimental work Allô Performance follows Ross, a trans videographer and performance artist who, over the course of nine months, appeared pregnant in public. Images of Ross frolicking on a beach below the Golden Gate Bridge with a huge belly accompany a phone-call voiceover of her Québécois mother recalling what it was like to be pregnant with her. (Mirha-Soleil Ross and Mark Karbusicky, 2002, 13 minutes)

Bearded African-American man siting at a bar table in a red shirt staring into the camera

No Ordinary Man 

No Ordinary Man, a documentary collaboration between filmmakers Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt, tells the story of jazz musician Billy Tipton. For decades Tipton’s life was framed as the story of an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of a music career. Here his story is reimagined and performed by trans artists, painting a portrait of an unlikely hero. The filmmakers join Tipton’s son Billy Jr. to reckon with a complicated and contested legacy. The film begins with an apt James Baldwin quote: “The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.” (Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt, 2020, 84 minutes)

Close up of a blonde African-American woman wearing a wite cropped t-shirt on a dance stage.

Walk for Me

James Baldwin also introduces this short film with the words “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” A contemporary coming-out story set in New York City, Elegance Bratton’s fictional Walk for Me is the tale of a conflicted teenager who is torn between maternal devotion and the desire for authenticity. When Hassan’s mother finds her way to a Gay Ball, she discovers that her child has been taken under the wing of an adoptive Ball mother, Paris Continental, and has assumed the identity of Hanna. She is confronted with a choice: deny her child or accept her for who she really is. (Elegance Bratton, 2016, 12 minutes)