SXSW 2021: See You Then

Kris (Pooya Mohseni) and Naomi (Lynn Chen) continue their journey through the night in See You Then. Photo credit: Jordan T. Parrott.

See You Then is the next cinematic game-changer in terms of transgender representation both on screen and behind the camera.

Imagine the Before trilogy of films but with a transgender lead in one of those roles. That’s what you’re getting in the story of this film. It’s a two-hander of a story. In hindsight, screenwriters Mari Walker and Kristen Uno would have probably set this film during the daytime. At least, that’s my understanding from talking with Walker and the two leads, Pooya Mohseni and Lynn Chen, during the pre-festival press day. But anyway, I am so happy to see that this film exists. More than just the transgender representation, you have so much diversity at a time when we’re begging Hollywood for diverse storytelling!

It’s been a decade since Kris (Pooya Mohseni) and Naomi (Lynn Chen) suddenly broke up. It could be a bad idea but Kris invites Naomi out for dinner so that the duo can catch up. Anything can and will happen over the course of the film’s brisk 74-minute run time. Not surprisingly, it’s as if nothing has changed even though everything has changed. The run time might be short but they pack in so much emotion in their conversations. Walker beautifully captures the vulnerability of the evening.

You might find some of the conversation becoming increasingly uncomfortable. That’s fine. It just saws how intimate, vulnerable, and raw this film is. I found myself in the same boat during some of the conversation. But then again, I’ve personally been uncomfortable with certain kinds of conversations dating back to a 10th grade field trip. This is another story for another day. All this, of course, is to say that you’re in for a bumpy albeit intimate night! I’m more forgiving about this conversation because it’s not the typical cishet male filmmaker behind the camera and writing the script. There’s no way that you would get this kind of film from a cishet male. This is only a story that can be told by transgender storytellers.

Following Disclosure, my hope was that the documentary would make way for a turning point in transgender opportunities. It’s definitely working but SXSW has been recognizing films featuring transgender representation during the past few years. They are all important in their own different way. Three years ago, TransMilitary launched at SXSW. Two years ago saw The Garden Left Behind launched at the festival. This year, See You Then is making its presence known by launching at SXSW. There’s some irony in the notably anti-trans Texas legislature being blocks away from the beating heart of SXSW.

See You Then is a personal film for director/co-writer Mari Walker and it shows in beautiful performances from leads Pooya Mohseni and Lynn Chen.

DIRECTOR:  Mari Walker
SCREENWRITERS:  Mari Walker & Kristen Uno
CAST:  Pooya Mohseni, Lynn Chen, Nican Robinson, Danny Jacobs

See You Then holds its world premiere during the 2021 SXSW Film Festival in the Narrative Spotlight program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.