Lola Pater was one of 150 films selected to screen at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival. As a transgender film critic based in Chicago, I opted against screening the film in the lead-up to the first screening on Friday.
You’re probably wondering why a transgender film critic would opt against screening Lola Pater, a film in which a transgender character plays a prominent role. It comes down to said character being played by a cisgender woman. I have just as much of a problem with a cis woman playing a trans woman as I do a cis man playing a trans woman. As a result, I took a personal stance and am boycotting the film.
As evidenced by one of the short films that was screened at the Reeling Film Festival during the Trials and Triumphs shorts presentation, transgender actresses in Europe are hard to come by but it shouldn’t be the case if you’re looking for one. Writer-director Nadir Moknèche should have tried harder to find a trans actress for the role.
Don’t even get me started on the press notes. Cis writers and directors, take note: TRANS WOMEN ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN CIS WOMEN. We can be straight, lesbians, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, etc. Just reading the press notes is living proof that transgender people are the best people when it comes to telling our stories. In reading the press notes, it is refreshing to see that Moknèche didn’t want to depict trans people as a cliche but at the same time–CAST A TRANS PERSON AS A TRANS PERSON! Is it not that hard? Like really? Is it not that hard to cast one of us? And people wonder why it’s so hard for trans people to find work in Hollywood. We can’t even get cast in trans roles!
Actual quote from the press notes, misgendering and all!
The underlying myth of all transsexuals is remembering the time when he first discovered his future as a woman…with the consequences one can imagine.
Most people prefer transgender these days, including those of whom are post-op.
Oh, G-d. It gets worse. This was pulled from the press notes and shows just how out-of-touch some cis folks can be when it comes to not casting trans folks in trans roles.
Aren’t you afraid of being reproached by some because you didn’t choose a transgender actress?
Why not an Algerian or an Arab woman? Should Shakespeare be played solely by British aristocrats? The identity of the actor with the role would mean the end of representation. Theatrical and cinematographic acting allows for questioning identities and for exploring them at the same time – it would be wrong to deprive ourselves of this possibility.
I think that I’m in a good position to understand the problems of minorities. I have spoken of the freedom of women, including in interreligious marriage, which is forbidden for Muslims. There is always an openly homosexual character in my films. I hope I am contributing to changing mentalities. Must I wait for a fatwa against me to be accredited?
The choice of Fanny Ardant naturally imposed itself. She and I have invested body and soul in the character of Lola.
I haven’t screened Lola Pater nor do I care to do so. I suggest you do the same and my hope is that the three screenings during the festival are as empty as can me. You want to do justice by your transgender friends and family members? SKIP IT!
The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival runs October 12-26, 2017 at AMC River East 21.