Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I'm Still Fucking Here; TMP Reviews Charlotte's LGBT Film Festival 2016






By
Sabrina Samone



Maybe it was the tension that needed to be released from the recent North Carolina laws passed against our community, or hopefully, it was a realization that we must come together to support each other. Either way, this past weekend's Charlotte LGBT Film Festival was a huge success, with an obvious increase in attendance from previous years. I'd like to thank my new found sis, Isley Whitfield and the rest of the team behind Charlotte's LGBT Film Festival, and Charlotte Pride, for their warm invite, reception, and the fabulous experience.

The atmosphere, obviously due to the bigoted law of HB2, was full of discussions, the talk of several protest planned, and the work yet to be done. One topic that was special to me; was the talk of building unity within Charlotte's LGBT community, especially within the fragmented trans community. Words of more structured organization, comradeship, and building an actual hands on support system among and for all our brothers and sisters was refreshing to hear, in local trans culture.

Those sentiments were heightened and represented in the films shown. Due in part, I'm sure, to the  transgender bathroom law;  this year was the most diverse movie selection yet.  Films like 'No Difference',  which focused on the masculine/feminine labeling of African American Lesbians, 'Major', the highly anticipated documentary about the life and times of Stonewall veteran and trans heroic,  advocate, Miss  Major Griffin-Gracy, and 'Those People', a film that began as a typical Gay male film, but went further with a focus on mental issues, and a interracial relationship.

The final night ended with a table discussion on the HB2 law, and everyone was welcome to voice their opinion, and talk about plans of action. The entire weekend event was  planned and orchestrated well, and the atmosphere was very welcoming to all of the Rainbow tribe. All the films were worth seeing but here is just those that stood out to me as exceptional, not only for their content, direction, acting, and cinematography, but also for those within the LGBT community rarely represented.


THE SAME DIFFERENCE
Without a doubt, for me, the most educational film was 'No Difference'. Director Nneka Onuorah, highlighted the often unheard voices of queer and lesbian women of color, and the stigma that has been imposed upon them by the years of oppression inflicted upon African American culture. It portrays the strict masculine, and homophobic ideas that drive African American lesbian culture to differentiate women as either masculine (a stud), or feminine (femmes), along with other labels that even the community itself forces all to adhere too.
One of the most moving moments, is of a stud that decides  to carry a child for her partner that is unable to carry herself. A woman, who identifies as such, but yet must explain her choices for having a child within the lesbian community.

This film, and it's subject matter is a topic that is long overdo.


THOSE PEOPLE

As a transgender person, I'm sure I'm not alone when I say we are often disappointed with the same themed gay male oriented films. Yet, 'Those People' will pleasantly surprise you. Not only is it well written, directed and acted, but the plot is not full of shirtless gay white only men. Thankfully, the film had a plot also that did not center around just sex. If you are a gay male, you also will not be disappointed in the lack of flesh, there's just the right amount of it. This is an excellent film that centers around a group of New York Upper East side LG brat packs, with their share of co-dependency issues, addiction and love triangles. You will also be treated to some ethnicity, that's often missed in Gay films. The main character, a ditsy but loving Jewish character that comes off as a die hard bottom, and the heart throb Arabian he falls for.

All the characters face real life moments of personal, and career highs and lows. A fun film about friendship, sacrifices and romantic love. 


MAJOR

The highlight of the weekend was the highly anticipated film, 'Major'. A documentary about the life and times of one of the last remaining Stonewall girls, Miss Major Griffin Gracy.  Laverne Cox said, "Loving a trans person is revolutionary", and this story is full of love and inspiration. It is even more revolutionary to see a trans community together, and united. I came of age, and began transition in this atmosphere and it's so good to see it still exist. It's so disappointing to hear 'all trans people are different' to explain people's reasoning to not be united, or get to know other trans people outside of their comfort zone. This film shows that is possible and more.

Charlotte was home to the first showing in the South East of this film. Several cities fought for that prestige, but fortunately for us and me, Charlotte's team won.

Miss Major started her activism in 1969 as one of the original Stonewall girls who are often unrecognized for igniting the LGBT revolution we now witness today. She has spent 45 plus years advocating for the rights of transgender people, and those incarcerated. She has advocated for those with HIV, trans and gay, yet has had to fight for recognition in the greater rainbow community. Finally, she along with us, are able to witness with the release of this film, the amazing story of Mama Major.
There are so many films, those of us who have been fortunate enough to be mentored by older trans girls or trans showgirls have come to know. This is one to add to the books. A must see for every trans person, both female and male. Not only is it an honor to see her story, to see the work she has done on all our behalf, but what was not expected was the level of comradery the film demonstrated.  An uplifting film of courage, hardship, survival and the bond that links all who carry the flag of being trans.

This film moved me beyond words, and inspired me to continue my part in fighting with my community. Without a doubt, the best film of the weekend. It will inspire you, bring you tears, and have you laughing your pants off.


This year's films also featured the Danish Girl, and a short "Elise", a look into the day of a transgender woman of color in the sex industry. Kudos to Charlotte LGBT Film Festival for their inclusiveness this year to transgender people in film.

RELATED TOPICS ON TRANSMUSEPLANET

Twenty Inspiring Trans People of Color; #Morethanonemonth

Defining Who We Are VIII: Is Transgender Society Unity, Under Siege From Within?

TransMusePlanet's 4th Annual Top 20 Most Influential Trans People of 2015






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