REVIEW: I AM THEY @Sallis Benney Theatre

I AM THEY

Film Screening

Tuesday November 28

Sallis Benney Theatre

Brighton

Brighton residents, loving couple & Trans & non-binary activists Fox & Owl Fisher gave  a sneak preview of their new film project I AM THEY.  This documentary film is a highly personal narrative of Fox & Owl’s journeys of finding each other, loving each other and how that plays out in a world not open to non-binary identities and which is uncomfortable with people self-defining and celebrating their diversity on their own terms.

Fox and Owl are both celebrated Trans/non-binary activists in their own ways, Owl is a prominent Icelandic activist and Fox is well known in the UK, both work across Europe to advance trans and non-binary equality and profile non-binary networks.

You can check out their interesting and entertaining YouTube channel here

The film, although touching on their various lives was more a focus of their shared life together and their wish to celebrate that in a conscious coupling and how that is currently thwarted by the British (and many other) states demanding binary gender identities on official documents.  The film follows them as they discuss being unable to marry with MP’s, activists and vicars bringing their own vivacious and charming selves to an unwelcoming situation and allowing us to see, both in them and in their relationships with each other, their boundless passion and hopes for a better future. The film is a gentle exercise of intersectionality and we learn about gender recognition, language, social acceptance and the barriers to marriage.

We also got to see some of the deeply unpleasant on-line hatred and twisted main stream media this sweet couple have experienced. In huge heartwarming contrast were  Fox and Owls’ parents in the film, who candidly discussed  to camera their feelings about their children’s journeys into the cherished adults they so obviously loved; although not perhaps completely understood.  I was touched by the startling beauty of Owl’s parents as they talked for the first time on camera, on their farm in the north of Iceland about their acceptance and understanding of Owl, as their child, and as they grew into the complex adult who they were so obviously proud of. It was a beautiful and touching piece of documentary film making and it’s honest, simple message should be shown to any and each parent who might have difficulties understanding their children’s expression of their gender identities.

The film is engaging and interesting without being preachy and using this young couple’s obvious and romantic personal experiences and relationship as the main narrative thrust allows us to keep the focus on them, and the daily struggle they face and the struggle they have to marry – something the rest of British society takes for granted.   There were a few technical difficulties but nothing detracted from the quality of the narrative on screen, Fox and Owl then joined Ben in a question and answer session following the film, where Fox’s parents, also present,  spoke about their own unconditional pride for Fox.

I left with the image of Owl’s mother & father in my mind; rugged landscape behind them, ruddy cheeked, giddy with pride and smiling with joy as they spoke of their love for their child and although not erasing the struggle or pain, they infused me with the hope that the world is slowly getting better for all of us.

For more information about the film see the Sallis Benny website here

 

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