Gender Reel, is the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) only film festival dedicated to enhancing the visibility of trans and gender diverse people, images and experiences in film and media.
Gender Reel accepts submissions from ANYONE who identifies as trans, gender diverse and/or queer. Films submitted by folks who ID in this way do not need to be about trans or gender diverse issues, although that is preferred. Considerations are also given on a case-by-case basis to folks who do not identify in this way, but only if the film is about a trans/gender diverse issue or topic and trans/gender diverse people played a key role in the creating the film or media project.
Gender Reel is unique for a number of reasons. Gender Reel screens films directed and produced by trans and gender diverse filmmakers about trans and gender diverse people. We also host panel discussions and present Q&A sessions with trans/gender diverse filmmakers from around the world. Additionally, Gender Reel works is committed to elevating the voices of the most marginalized parts of the trans community, dedicating over 50% or more of its programming to trans people of color stories, experiences and images. Lastly, Gender Reel keeps ticket prices affordable and offers scholarships to those who cannot afford to buy one. Accessibility is very important because of the statistical realization that trans people fall on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. We also do not charge filmmakers to submit films because doing so, can again, be a financially impossible option for some.
This comedy series that follows two central protagonists. Mix, a white, non-binary transgender, queer actor and Harriet, a Black, cisgender, heterosexual writer. Together they navigate New York City, their work in the activist community, and a friendship that challenges their individual upbringing and the communities with which they identify. (Filmmakers: Ariel Mahler & Daquisha Jones, 2018, TRT: 6 to 8 min an episode).
Beside the water, 1999 - 2004
Still photographs of desert landscapes and trans bodies interact in this essay film to tell a story of isolation, intimacy, and trauma within an American trans masculine community of the early 2000's. Beside the water, proposes an alternative mode of retrieving and disseminating a trans past through familial relations and the erotic. Piecing together evidences of a past via an individuals mementos, this work places trans sexual experiences in conversation with a non-linear idea of history, that is both real and fabricated, defiantly looking towards a future of pleasure, beauty, sincerity, and fantasy. (Filmmaker: Finn Paul, 2017, 12 min).
Buddy & Them
This docu-fictional short video about the relationship between two liminal members of the Lower East Side Orthodox Jewish community: Je’Jae, a genderqueer college student, and Razi, their adoptive grandmother. The movie examines how the two femmes support each other in their struggles, share space, and create a chosen family. (Filmmaker: JeJae Daniels, 2017, 20 min).
A documentary about genderqueer journalist, poet and artist Jess Sachse who is living with a congenital disability. (Filmmaker: Jacob Stein, 2014, 6 min)
A short documentary about the intersection of activism and drag performance. Filmmaker: Savannah Rodgers, 2017, TRT: 7 min).
Graham & Zeke
A transgender couple from Tennessee share their insights surrounding love, gender, and pet snakes. (Filmmaker: Cheryl Monique, 2018, TRT: 8 min).
Like A Riot
The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot" - Audre Lorde. In this action-packed thriller, CampbellX and Sophie Mayer find and replace film posters promoting movies by white straight dudes about white straight dudes. The (finger puppet) protagonists gleefully complete their quest in the tube, and on the streets of London, to an original song by the QWOC punk band, Big Joanie. (Filmmaker: Krissy Mahan, 2016, 2 min).
Undocumented Filipinx trans woman, Olivia, who works as a caregiver to Olga, an 81-year-old Russian-Jewish woman suffering from dementia, develops an unusual relationship with Olga's grandson Alex, who decides to move back into the house in order to help caretake for his grandmother (Filmmaker: Isabel Sandoval, 2018, Segments will be screened).
Long Story Short
The very long story of Maria Roman about her transition as a woman in a very short film. (Filmmaker: Octavio Maya Rocha, 2017, TRT: 3 min).
Takes us into the heart of transgender male (FTM) culture, revealing unexpected truths about gender, masculinity, humanity and love. Four trans men (who like the film's director were born and raised female), take a variety of life paths toward stepping on stage at Trans FitCon, the only all-transgender bodybuilding competition in the world (held in Atlanta, GA). MAN MADE is a character-driven, intimate, and riveting verité-style competition film, but also a unique social justice narrative. It speaks to the ways in which we all choose to define and reshape ourselves, both figuratively and literally. The strength on display in MAN MADE transcends the physical: Rese is a young father struggling with periods of homelessness; Dominic seeks out his family of origin, confronting an alternate history for himself; Kennie admits to himself and his loved ones who he is for the first time in his life; and Mason, a loving husband who struggles with mental illness, works daily to be the man he's always wanted to be—on both the inside and out. We follow these subjects' emotional and physical journeys as they navigate lives as the men they are, despite very real risks inherent in the current social and political climate. For the men of MAN MADE, it's not about winning—it's about being seen. (Filmmaker: T Cooper, 2018, TRT: 90 min).
A documentary that contrasts the views of the trans women of southern India and the society they live in. (Filmmaker: Harsha Gullapalli, 2018, 8 min)
Older, LGBTQ & Homeless
This social impact feature documentary on ethnically diverse and resilient transgender older adults currently living in transitional housing exposes many compelling challenges faced by this highly mistreated group. It becomes clear that we cannot possibly know what it is like to be over 50 and feel like a woman but not having the finger dexterity to shave so we still look very much like a man, to be an LGBTQ older adult who is homeless and in need of selling everything we own to stay alive, or to lose our job because, at an older age, we have finally acquired the strength to come out as transgender but our boss does not accept who we are. (Filmmaker: Luciana Lagana, 2018, TRT: 73 min).
This short documentary profiles the lives of three men of color who have undergone gender transition from female to male. The film explores what life is like living as a black man, when no one knows you are transgender and how each of them perceives their own journey with gender after many years of being interacted with by the world as a biological man. (Filmmaker: Lucah Rosenberg-Lee & J. Mitchel Reed, 2015, TRT: 23).
This first-person essay film examines the secret underbelly of a contemporary Jewish American family as they grapple with the after-effects of physical and sexual abuse on their present-day lives. Functioning as the film’s primary conceit, in the fall of 2013 filmmaker Jules Rosskam and his partner, Alex, set out to retrace a road trip that Rosskam’s parents, Marilyn and Skip, completed in the fall of 1974—just prior to his birth and their transition to suburbia and parenthood. The viewer hears audio diaries that Marilyn and Skip kept during the course of their four-month journey and sees photographs and travelogue footage recorded on Super 8: barely perceptible, grainy, and quickly receding signs and landmarks carry the viewer along their route: Boston, Mobile, Savannah, Chicago, Portland, Vancouver. The visual field of Paternal Rites is dominated by bright, pristine, and nearly-still images of the American landscape, which haunt the viewer with their splendor and banality, and with the layering of still images over live-action footage. Implicit throughout is the filmmaker’s queer and transgender subjectivity, which floats to the surface of the screen as the viewer is confronted with fragments of home movies of his childhood—iconic in their unremarkability—and hears audio recordings of contemporary conversations between Rosskam and Alex, who functions as Rosskam’s partner in life as well as in this project of decoding his past on screen. Together, they create a stunning visual portrait about the power of film to transform us. (Filmmaker: Jules Rosskam, 2018, TRT: 90 Min).
After abandoning her life as a sex worker in Manila, trans woman Donna (played by filmmaker Isabel Sandoval) retreats to a quieter existence in a small town where she hopes to raise her 12-year-old foster son Tomas and work on the campaign local mayoral candidate. She soon discovers a powerful and ruthless former associate is the puppet master pulling the strings of the corrupt opposition spurs her to make provocative moves on the campaign trail and to return to the bed of a man she despises as she uses her sexual wiles as part of a perilous gambit to take him down. Sandoval's debut feature expands on his 2009 short, also titled Señorita, with a heady blend of sex and politics. In this sun-drenched neo-noir, the femme fatale is recast as the heroine, boldly challenging the powers that be at the risk of her own skin. Donna is a complex character, warm and sympathetic, but not without flaws. Her well-meant actions have consequences, for the candidate she supports and more crucially for herself and Tomas, as she inadvertently endangers their lives. Both a thriller and a melodrama, this sexy, suspenseful film explores the nature of power, its allure, its uses, its abuses and its limits. (Filmmaker: Isabel Sandoval, 2011, TRT: 99 min).
This film follows Tanesh Nutall, a 50-year old black transgender woman from Rahway, New Jersey. In February 2016, Tanesh was confronted by a city employee for using a women's restroom in Downtown San Francisco. Throughout the film, Tanesh seeks justice and make amends with family members that were not accepting of her gender identity. Not only does "She" discuss queer people in urban spaces but one's ability to accept themselves despite the odds against them. (Filmmaker: Anthonia Onyejekwe, 2017, TRT: 15 min).
Stage Name: Victoria
An intimate look at a drag queen starting his career in the community of Fort William First Nation and his relationship with his mother who has always encouraged him in his life choices. (Filmmaker: Taran Morriseau, 2018, TRT: 4 min).
The Decision of Riley
Riley, born with a female body, yet always confused about her gender identity. One day, she discovered a simple way to interchange her biological gender. (Filmmaker: Yue Xia, 2017, TRT: 4 min).
Awarded Best Documentary Feature at Portland Film Festival, and honored the New York Hi Lights Award at Harlem International Film Festival. Tamara W. is an honest, stripped-down look into the world of voguing, escort business, ecstasy addiction, sexual abuse, and being a transgender girl. The documentary film is a compassionate portrait of Tamara Williams, a 23-year-old Bronx girl with fire in her heart, and too much life experience on her shoulders. Tamara tells her story openly and candidly. The disturbing experiences of her life have not been able to dispirit her. British style icon i-D Magazine has listed Tamara among its “30 under 30” New Yorkers shaking up the City. Visually, the film presents a bare and lingering look at the locations of Tamara's life and everyday life in the Bronx, along the #4 subway line of New York City’s transit system. The film pays homage to the beauty of the borough and its residents. (Filmmaker: Marko Vuorinen, 2014, TRT: 53 min).
Every year, over a thousand people go through a gender transition in Brazil. Transparents is a documentary short from Red Cross Brazil that brings real stories of four Brazilian transgenders and what they expect for the future. (Filmmaker: Raphael Dias, 2017, TRT: 15 min).
Un Cookie Para Curar Las Lagrimas de Maricon
This short explores the filmmakers family as they struggled to accept their daughters transition from female to male. (Filmmaker: Benni Quintero, 2017, 3 min).
Parents are at odds with what to do when their 6-year old son is sent home from school for wearing a dress (Filmmakers: Ellie Foumbi & Michael Niederman, 2017, 11 min).
Suicide prevention and awareness film. Depicts a transgender person who contemplated suicide. (Filmmaker: Lisa Crawford, 2018, TRT: 9 min).