Five films that break gender barriers2017/06/28
Cinema has always been a mirror that reflects the way society evolves. Over the last few decades there have been many changes to the way we see sexual diversity, and there is no doubt that the films that tell stories about LGTBI people have helped accomplish this. Something Must Break, currently available in our collection, is a great example of this. If you're curious about the role transgender people have played in film over recent decades, we put together a list of films we strongly recommend.
ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (1999)
Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar has always shown in his films a special sensitivity to portraying the lives of people rejected by society. All About My Mother, the movie with which he won a Best Director award at Cannes and an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, tells the story of a woman who traces the steps of the father of her recently deceased son. In her journey, she encounters many people from her past and among them is Agrado, a transsexual prostitute who survives in the streets of Barcelona.
Agrado is played in the movie by Antonia San Juan, who gives the character tonnes of humanity and realism. We almost forget that we are watching a movie and want to become friends with this gorgeous woman, who tells the story of her turbulent life with a natural and unprejudiced humour, making her most terrifying experiences sound like simple anecdotes.
BREAKFAST ON PLUTO (2005)
One may think that telling a story about the terrorist acts of the IRA during the 70’s in Great Britain through the life of a young trans woman is a crazy idea. It might be, but no one can deny that Breakfast on Pluto, Neil Jordan’s film revolving around a teenager who leaves her Irish town for London, is an absolutely entertaining and deeply moving piece of art.
Cillian Murphy plays Patrick “Kitten” Brady, a trans teenager who looks for her mother as she struggles to be accepted by others and find her place in a very difficult world. The terrorist attacks of the IRA are continuous, the police response to violence is brutal and the discrimination suffered by sexual minorities is terrible. Facing all these difficulties, Patrick looks for her missing mother, and we join her with pleasure in an amazing journey.
Transexuality is not portrayed in movies as something that affects children very often. Maybe that's the reason reason why the French film Tomboy, directed by Céline Sciamma, couldn’t miss this list. The film tells the story of Laure, a girl who moves with her family to a new neighbourhood on the outskirts of Paris. In her new school she decides to dress and behave as a boy and calls herself Michael. With her new identity, she finds herself in the middle of very compromised situations and discovers new ways of showing her own identity.
The sensitivity of this work and the capacity to touch each and every one of our emotions makes viewing this film an experience that nobody should miss. It's impossible to judge or neglect a child who looks for his own identity in a natural way, without caring about the social customs and beliefs.
In 2015, Sean Baker released his revolutionary second feature film, Tangerine. It was shot completely with an iPhone camera without looking unprofessional or cheap. The camera follows Sin-Dee Rella and Alexandra, two trans friends and sex workers, as they look for the boyfriend and pimp of the first. The man has been cheating on her while she was in prison and now she thirsts for revenge.
Tangerine is also revolutionary in the way that both the two main actresses are transgender in real life. It isn't rare to see non-trans men and women playing trans characters and receiving brave reviews, but seeing real trans people in main roles is not as common. Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, the two actresses behind Sin-Dee Rella and Alexandra, give excellent performances in this movie that has completely changed the way sexual minorities are portrayed in movies.
A FANTASTIC WOMAN (2017)
At the last Berlin International Film Festival, we saw how a Chilean movie became a social and cultural phenomenon after its screening at the main competition. Sebastian Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman tells the story of Marina, a waitress and singer who after the sudden death of her boyfriend has to face all the prejudices and suspicions of everyone around her. The reason why everyone thinks that Marina hides some information regarding the tragic event is that she is a trans woman and there are many people who still think that you can never trust “those kinds of people”.
The film portrays Marina's fight to maintain her dignity and her rights. We see a woman mourning for the loss of the person she loved and in pain for the violent and unfair way that society treats her only for being the person she wants to be. Actress Daniela Vega offers an outstanding performance, building a strong but vulnerable character who is impossible to forget.