March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated to bring awareness to transgender people and their identities as well as recognize those who helped fight for rights for transgender people. A few films worth revisiting are PFS’s Fellow Filmmaker Jennie Livingston’s PARIS IS BURNING (1990), a documentary about ball culture in the 80’s and the inspiration to the fabulous series POSE; BOYS DON’T CRY directed by Kimberly Peirce in 1993. A devastating and unflinching account based on the real-life story of Brandon Teena, a trans man who was tragically murdered by acquaintances who discovered his gender identity, the film is also a beautiful love story, underscoring the power of love in even the darkest times. Naturally, we can’t omit PIFF 2018 Filmmaker on the Edge Honoree Sean Baker’s film TANGERINE (2015), the story of a transgender sex worker who learns that her pimp/boyfriend has been cheating on her.
CELEBRATE DIVERSITY MONTH WITH FILM WATCH PARTIES that coincide with perhaps annual observances that celebrate our diverse cultures and global communities. (All recommended films are streaming online.)
DINA directed by Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles. Dina is an eccentric and outspoken woman who invites her fiance, Scott, to move in with her. The couple face many challenges as Dina copes with a mental disability, and Scott lives with Asperger’s syndrome.
THE LIGHTHOUSE OF THE WHALES directed by Gerado Olivares A mother travels from Spain to Argentina searching for solutions to help her autistic child.
OCEAN HEAVEN directed by Xiao Lu Xue A terminally ill man (Jet Li) tries to prepare his autistic son for life without him.
THE RIDER directed by Chloé Zhao After a riding accident leaves him unable to compete on the rodeo circuit, a young cowboy searches for a new purpose. Directed by Golden Globe winning director of Nomadland.
STAY THEN GO directed by Shelli Ainsworth In a hospital waiting room, a mother reviews her experiences with her autistic son. Directed by PFS Women’s Film Residency Fellow Shelli Ainsworth, STAY THEN GO screened at the 2014 PIFF.
ARAB AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH We turned to the Arab Film & Media Institute to find out their recommendations for National Arab American Heritage Month.
AMREEKA directed by Cherien Dabis A vivacious Palestinian woman (Nisreen Faour) and her teenage son (Melkar Muallem) cope with culture clash and more as they try to build a new life in rural Illinois. This film is a great way to better understand the experience of Arab immigrants and the struggles they may face in America, especially since 9/11.
A THOUSAND AND ONE JOURNEYS: THE ARAB-AMERICANS Directed By Abe Kasbo The immigration experience of Arab-Americans and the contributions they have made to the American way of life.