Thursday, April 30, 2015

I Am Trans* Films and Arts Exhibit Encourage Self Expression

No matter who you are or where you come from — you should always honor your true self. This lesson comes across brilliantly in I AmOhio's first ever transgender art exhibit at Waterloo Arts gallery, open until May 25, where 15 artists from around the country share their experience as transgender individuals. In conjunction with the exhibit, Sistah Sinema is premiering Stealth and Kuma Hina: A Place in the Middle, both of which were previously shown at the Cleveland International Film Festival, that capture the transgender experience through a younger generation.

"It's encouraging and emboldening these young children to be themselves," says Deidre McPherson, founder of the Cleveland chapter of Sistah Sinema. "Both films are positive examples of young people being supported by adults and showing them how we as adults are mentoring and raising the next generation — how we can support them, and love them, and encourage them to be happy and see themselves."

The films will be shown back-to-back Friday, May 1 beginning at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a panel discussion led by activist Zoe Renee Lapin, one of our Most Interesting People of 2015. The event is free, but donations are encouraged to Margie's Hope, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping transgender people find secure housing and employment. Here's a sneak preview of tomorrow night's films.

Stealth follows a young transgender person in her search for acceptance.
Stealth, which won this year's best student short film award at CIFF, stars Kristina Hernandez as an 11-year-old who goes by the name of Sammy. As the new girl at school, she reveals her secret to her closest friends — that she was born a boy but living life as a girl. When she's betrayed and her identity is publicly revealed, she's faced with the decision to stay masked or to live out her true identity. "I actually heard people gasp in the audience [at CIFF] as they watched the film and be surprised, not knowing what the film was going to be about," says McPherson. "It's a reminder of the rejection, the bullying, and the harassment that some people face in school just to be different in any way."

Kuma Hina: A Place in the Middle is a documentary that captures a teacher's journey to educate her students on the acceptance and appreciation of gender fluidity.
An honorable mention for the Spalding and Jackson award at CIFF, Kuma Hina: A Place in the Middle captures the complexity journey of a classroom navigating the thin line of gender expectations. When 11-year-old Ho'onani decides she wants to participate in the traditionally masculine hula troupe, her transgender teacher, Wong Kalu finds a way to make it happen while explaining the importance of embracing the male and female characteristics that reside inside of everyone. "Wong Kalu uses her native Hawaiian culture to empower her young students," says McPherson. "This film brings to life a diverse gender spectrum that challenges people to think about gender identity in a better way."

3 comments:

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