Perth-bred transperson Col Cruise started the inaugural London Transgender Film Festival last year because he saw a need for greater understanding of the diverse group of people that is the trans community. Buoyed by the positive response from London audiences, he’s now bringing a selection of the festival’s best films on a three-city Australian tour, taking in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
“There was a lack of transgender films being shown in festivals. I had a look online and I got the feeling there were a lot of transgender films out there, but they weren’t being selected for festivals,” Cruise said when asked about the seeds of inspiration for the London festival.
“So I decided to create my own [festival]. I put out the word and we got about 100 DVDs sent from all over the world, which really surprised me — it was a really great response… I put around 30 films in the London festival all up.
“Because we have limited time in each city for the Australian festivals, I’ve had to make it really diverse — I could show one full-length feature about transwomen or another about transmen, but then other people wouldn’t be catered for because I wouldn’t have any room for anything else. You see, a lot of people don’t realise that transgender is an umbrella term. Underneath it you’ve got transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex — a whole range of different experiences and stories to tell.”
The shorts range from the colourful Fagette, a four-minute burst of colour and movement featuring drag-tastic cheerleaders, to the inspiring Are You A Girl Or What?, a moving half-hour doco about the adversities faced by a group of young transpeople living in the South African township of Katlehong.
The festival is co-organised by the Sydney and Melbourne chapters of transgender group Butchfemmetrans. Cruise said he hoped the films selected would challenge Australian audiences’ preconceptions about transpeople.
“It’s been programmed for an Australian audience to increase trans visibility and acknowledgement, question the gender binary, dispel ignorance and demystify stereotypes, unite and support a diverse LGBT community and celebrate trans spaces and their friends.”

info: Best of the London Transgender Film Festival screens on October 21 and 28 at The Red Rattler Theatre, Marrickville. Details: [email protected]

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