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I Identify as Me
Virtual Panel: 9/18 (Mon) 8PM EDT
Streaming available in the U.S. from 9/15 12:00 AM EDT - 9/19 11:59 PM EDT.
I Identify as Me is part of Black & Brown Queer Resilience program.
This program is co-sponsored by Third World Newsreel. This program is part of the TWN Organizing and Filmmaking Then and Now series.
Directed by Tina Colleen & Monick Monell
USA | 2022 | Documentary | 10 min
I Identify as Me is a character-driven experimental short film that highlights Trans, gender-diverse people and masculine-presenting women who are Black and Brown. Each character’s intersectional experiences connect us with common themes of their gender expressions outside of social norms, self-exploration, and affirming their true selves. Characters shed light on the reality of violence that can be inflicted due to someone’s race, gender, and sexuality. Despite these systematic and social challenges, the characters reaffirm that acceptance and self-love are the paths forward.
My art demonstrates my purpose and commitment to seeing underrepresented people live their lives authentically and not conform to colonial norms. I aim to provide a platform to people who are often not heard, helping them to realize the power of their own voice to give others like themselves permission to do the same.
Since I was young, I knew I wanted to be an educator. In 2008, after working on a large fashion production; I discovered I had a talent for effectively combining education with art and entertainment. The turning point of my career that transitioned me to filmmaking happened in 2017. I learned about genders beyond the gender binary. I told my ex about my interest in learning more–at that moment they came out to me as gender non-conforming. After this conversation, I began speaking to 2SLGBTQIA+ people in my network; I learned that many QTBIPoC were unaware of gender fluidity. This left me with many unanswered questions about social structures and ignited a fire in me to create I Identify as Me.
I use stirring and alluring visual expressions to portal the viewer into a different world that immerses them in my art. As a filmmaker, I document well-rounded interviews and stories that preserve 2SLGBTQIA+ storytelling. Mainstream media often focuses on the trauma and pain of 2SLGBTQIA+ people in a singular light; my approach focuses on spotlighting each character as a whole, multi-layered person–their joy, power, vulnerability, ethnicity, and all of their intersectional identities. As a part of my process, I spend time with each of my protagonists individually without a camera to allow them to get to know me and the team. Furthermore, I invite collaboration and feedback from each character on their interviews, scenes, and story arcs as a way to build trust and for them to feel confident they are being portrayed as authentically as possible.
The presentation of QTBIPoC in mainstream media is seldom portrayed as beautiful or soft; I especially like to incorporate black and white visuals, while utilizing the negative space with sunlight and shadows. Using this technique inspires deeper emotion in the viewer, allowing them to be more vulnerable and open to the messages they are receiving, even if the topic is heavy or uncomfortable.
I have always felt like I never saw myself in film and TV. As someone who regularly consumes 2SLGBTQIA+ movies and media, I rarely see intersectionality in front or behind the lens. In addition, I have always felt that QTBIPoC are still not depicted in authentic ways because QTBIPoC do not tell most 2SLGBTQIA+ stories in media/entertainment.
What inspired me to want to work with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community as an advocate and now as an artist is when I was younger I use to go to spaces such as The Door. The Door's mission is to empower young people to reach their potential by providing comprehensive youth development services in a diverse and caring environment. In addition to that, they take in youth who are kicked out of their homes and need medical attention and education. I was only 16 and they took care of me, even though I never said if I was a part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community or not. At The Door, I found resources and spaces where I could feel safe being myself. That inspired me to want to pay it forward to let others know there is a community that will be there for them. Now as a Director of a film and series that will reach people here in the U.S. and internationally, I feel like I'm able to give more to people within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community the opportunity to see they are not alone.
Progress doesn't come overnight, it is difficult in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to express yourself outside of the gender binary and heteronormative gender roles. Many people forget there is no book on who we are and who we will become. I hope I Identify as Me will educate people so they can understand each other the same they want to be understood.
Black & Brown Queer Resilience Panel Discussion
Date/Time: 9/18 (Mon) 8PM EDT
Location: Virtual on Zoom
Join us for an evening of remembrance, reaffirmation, and solidarity as we commemorate 20 years since Sakia Gunn's tragic death. A live panel discussion will take place virtually, featuring the filmmakers and a special guest from the Newark LGBTQ Center. Ticket and pass holders will receive a link to join the Zoom later via email. Read more.
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