From Birth To Chosen
A vibrant treasure of a collection of short films was shown at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. 'From Birth To Chosen' had eight films that explored the areas of gender and family, both born and chosen. With a mix of documentary, drama and comedy, this group of films delighted the audience and left all who saw them contemplating issues of gender identity and what family is all about. The programme started with a U.S. documentary, 'The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children', which interviewed various family members from several families about the issues that both they, and their children, faced in society and amongst friends and peers. This touching, candid film was very moving. It was refreshing to see the family love and support that was given to the children concerned. With a wealth of different experiences and emotions felt between the interviewees, this film provided a sense of hope and recognition to many. Another short film from the U.S., 'Loop Plane' was a gem of a film. With a fictional story set in an amusement park, following a day in the life of a transgender teen who lives and works there with his supportive father, this wonderful short took you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Beautifully acted and directed, and with some quite stunning cinematography, this film is definitely worth looking out for. Nominated by the LLGFF for the Iris Short Film Prize (which is one of, if not the, gay and lesbian short film awards), 'James Dean' was a smart, funny short set in Scotland. Perfectly capturing the way families behave, argue and relate, all whilst waiting in a car ready for a family outing, this amusing film pleased the audience no end. Everyone could relate to the way families bicker, support or disagree, and the 'punchline' towards the end of the film was fabulous. 'Spiral transition' was a personal exploration of the development of relations between a mother and her trans son, from the moment when he first finds out her feelings about his transitioning. 'Absence' was an artily crafted short about gender fluidity, and the way some have to navigate between identities, in order to relate to family members. 'Living Room: Bar Wotever 2008-2009' is the first installment of an ongoing project by Dr Jane, about the people who go to the fantastic Bar Wotever, and what the space means to them. It gave a real sense of why Bar Wotever is cherished by so many and incorporated some of Dr Jane's stunning photographs as well. Filmed as a pilot for a possible series, 'Traverse City' followed the adventures of a woman and her trans boyfriend as they cross the U.S. to meet her gay male parents. Much comedy was had from the reactions of the gay father, the seperate sexual adventures of the non-monogomous central couple, and the awkwardness of having a partner meet the parents for the first time, which most can relate to. Incorporating comedy, drama, animation and fantasy, this had the audience laughing out loud and waiting for the next installment. The final film in the selection was 'Bella Maddo'. This fantastic comic melodrama was about a self-obsessed pregnant wife and mother, and the hell she brings on most of her loved ones. Although none of the characters in the story were transgendered, all the actors in the film were. Co-writer, director and amazing star of the film, Janice Danielle, wanted to make a film that showcased talented trans performers, in roles they may usually not be considered for. This hilarious film had a great sense of heightened drama (in the best possible way!) and was shot, written, directed and acted to a very high standard. It made 'Mommie Dearest' seem tame by comparison, and was extremely well received by the audience. Hopefully you will all get the chance to see this great collection of films. You will be amused, enlightened and have your heart touched by the films.