identities is a sensitive and compelling documentary which explores the multicoloured, multicultural transgender community in Ireland. Five personal stories give shape to the different but parallel worlds of Transvestism, Transsexualism, Drag, Sexual identity, and Gender Dysphoria.
Intimate observational footage introduces us to the world of each character. Documented in a series of revealing black and white interviews, each narrative is preceded by a colour performance art piece, and more abstract self-representation. Personal histories charting hardship, rejection and discrimination will be placed in a wider social, political and religious context through these characters’ personal experiences.
At its heart, this is a film about the human spirit. Overcoming stereotype and categorisation, the gender construct breaks open, allowing personality and human emotion a path to expression.
Director Vittoria Colonna
Producer Rachel Lysaght
Duration 81 minutes
identities was funded by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board and the Arts Council
God doesn’t make mistakes! Does He? Does She?
‘Identity’ has always been a favorite theme of mine. We all strive to discover who we are in the world, our physical identity our spiritual identity and our sexual identity. But imagine if your physical body didn’t match your soul? It raises the question…Does the soul have a sex?
Three years ago I originally approached this project as a fictional script and delved into the world of gender dysphoria, documenting and researching various transsexuals, transvestites and drag artists here in Ireland. However, I became more intrigued by the reality of the situation and the lack of knowledge about the Transgender community itself.
I felt it was more honest and insightful to make a documentary then a fictional story. So focusing on five personal stories; Sibyl the Drag Queen, Sahara the Ladyboy, Slick O’ the Drag King, Lee the Transman and Crystal the Transvestite, who opened their hearts, minds and souls to camera. identities was born.
It was important that I had the right team to carry out this fragile project. Rachel Lysaght from Underground Films produced the film, and we received funding from the Arts Council and Irish Film Board. Eoin McGuirk was the Editor, and Composer Frank Ilfman created an evocative and moving score.
The issues addressed in this film are universal, and touch every life, from family, love, self and acceptance. Most people still associate transsexuals with something as ‘sexual’, so it was paramount that the viewer be immersed into the Transgendered world – experiencing Gender Dysphoria, so to speak – in order to fully understand and empathise with the individuals.
Raja Nundlall was the documentary DOP and we used a fly-on-the-wall shooting style, for each character’s documentation. We shot B/W as a metaphor of male/female, right/wrong, sick/healthy, acceptable/unacceptable.
Contrasting with this, Tim Fleming shot colourful art pieces, which act as an experimental podium of expression for each character. In their art performances, the characters are liberated – free to be whomever or whatever they want to be, without fear of judgment, reprisal, or even reality infringing upon them.
We premiered at the 53rd Corona Cork Film Festival to a sold out house and received an emotional response of laughter tears and warm applause. We were delighted that some of our characters were able to travel to the viewing, making it a truly special experience.
Awaking their awareness and curiosity, I hope that the viewer is left with a deeper sense of understanding and respect for the neverending gender puzzle. The focus of identities was never just about gay or transgender rights, but human rights and the right of free choice. For I believe the soul is without sex or gender, as is God!
SCREENINGS & AWARDS
*Winner: (My Identity) Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Human Rights Film Competition, Ireland*
*Winner: Best Documentary, Gaze Film Festival, Ireland August 2009*
Special Screening of Art Pieces at Worldwide Italian Pavillion & 54th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2011
TENI (Trangender Equality Network Ireland) April 2010
Outview Film Festival Athens, Greece, April 2010
Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Australia, March 2010
Florence Queer Film Festival , Florence, Italy, November 2009
Britspotting Film Festival Berlin Germany, November 2009
Les Gai Cinemad Film Festival, Madrid, Spain, November 2009
(My Identity) International Human Rights Day Film Festival, KADE Ireland, November 2009
(My Identity) 54th Corona Cork Festival, Ireland, October 2009
(My Identity) Raindance Film Festival, UK 2009
LA Irish Film Festival September, Santa Monica, L.A, USA 2009
Gaze Film Festival, Ireland, August 2009
Official Selection, Galway Film Fleadh, Ireland, July 2009
Guth Gafa Film Festival, Donegal, Ireland, June 2009
Visionaria Film Festival, Piombino, Italy, 2009
Divergenti Film Festival, Bologna, Italy, June 2009
Amsterdam Transgender Film Festival, Holland, May 2009
Ireland on Sunday, Irish Film Institute, Ireland, December 2008
53rd Corona Cork Festival, Ireland, October 2008