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Framing Agnes

Country: Canada, Language: English, 75 mins

  • Director: Chase Joynt
  • Writer: Chase Joynt, Morgan M. Page
  • Producer: Samantha Curley, Shant Joshi

CGiii Comment

When a short film becomes a feature...there is only one question that needs to be answered: Did the short deserve to be developed into a feature?

The answer here is...clearly...yes. There is an archive full of material that needs to be heard and seen. That's the positive...however, the negatives are too numerous to ignore.

Contemporary transference is a major problem...the thrusting of personal interpretations [and opinions] onto those who went before is nothing but a form of revisionism...and, revisionism has the power to mislead, misguide and misinform. Of course, trans history is important, has to be heard, has to be researched, has to be taught...but, all under that giant banner academic called...objectivity. Otherwise, it all becomes a replica of Hollywood's historical bullshit.

There is one voice-of-reason...Jules Gill-Peterson provides a scholarly commentary to the fantasist's approach that dominates the screen...perhaps, the academic aspect to the film could have been spread across a few more academics!?! One academic's 'opinion' comes perilously close to being subjective!

Look...the difficulty with this film is balance. Too much academia, there goes the audience-at-large. Too little...there goes the academics and, quite possibly, the niche audience! Everything presented ends with an 'I think' - let the audience think for presenting the facts...without unnecessary gimmicks, the chat-show format...just bizarre.

Transference and projection are not the ways to tell these doing so, they serve a disrespect and an injustice to the person, their memory...and, to their story.

Chase Joynt has done this before with No Ordinary Man - the here-and-now is not the never will be. Think would you like your story to be told? Fantastically or factually?


The(ir) Blurb...

Agnes, the pioneering, pseudonymized, transgender woman who participated in Harold Garfinkel’s gender health research at UCLA in the 1960s, has long stood as a figurehead of trans history. In this rigorous cinematic exercise that blends fiction and nonfiction, director Chase Joynt explores where and how her platform has become a pigeonhole. Framing Agnes endeavors to widen the frame through which trans history is viewed — one that has remained too narrow to capture the multiplicity of experiences eclipsed by Agnes’. Through a collaborative practice of reimagination, an impressive lineup of trans stars (Zackary Drucker, Angelica Ross, Jen Richards, Max Wolf Valerio, Silas Howard, and Stephen Ira) take on vividly rendered, impeccably vintage reenactments, bringing to life groundbreaking artifacts of trans healthcare.

Joynt’s signature form-rupturing style radically reenvisions the imposition of the frame on the cultural memory of transness through his brilliantly crafted, communally-driven excavation. This reclamation tears away with remarkable precision the myth of isolation as the mode of existence of transgender history-makers, breathing new life into a lineage of collaborators and conspirators who have been forgotten for far too long.

Cast & Characters

Angelica Ross (as Georgia)
Jen Richards (as Barbara)
Silas Howard (as Denny)
Chase Joynt (as Host)
Zackary Drucker (as Agnes)
Max Wolf Valerio (as Henry (as Max Valerio))
Stephen Ira Cohen (as Jimmy)