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Gender Troublemakers: Trans Authorship, DIY, and Experimentation Through Film @ 2220 Arts + Archives

Co-presented with LA Filmforum with Caden Mark Gardner and Cary Cronenwett in person; Guest-programmed by Gardner and Willow Catelyn Maclay

1:00 PM on July 21st, 2024 PDT

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Guest-programmed by Caden Mark Gardner and Willow Catelyn Maclay (with Gardner in person) on the occasion of the release of the book they co-authored, Corpses, Fools, and Monsters: The History and Future of Transness in Cinema.

In the book Corpses, Fools, and Monsters: The History and Future of Transness in Cinema, co-authors Caden Mark Gardner and Willow Catelyn Maclay work to trace transness as a cinematic image- whether as a sight gag, abject, or well-intentioned but bungled humanization of trans people- to trans authorship and explicit narratives surrounding gender identity. In celebration of the book’s publishing, the co-authors have curated a film program with the focus on trans authorship and experimental film touchstones covered in their expansive book.

The 1990s saw the rise of film festivals, film spaces, and cultural production that intersected with third wave feminism, riot grrrl, and Gen X d.i.y. zine culture, offering alternative paths for trans and gender non-conforming visual artists. New Queer Cinema became the major inflection point of this era but there were other heralded ‘gender troublemakers’ who set the tone for trans experimental filmmaking and cultural production whose DNA are still found in the works of Angelo Madsen Minax and others.

Caden Mark Gardner (he/him/his) is a freelance film critic and researcher from Upstate New York and is the co-author of Corpses, Fools, and Monsters: The History and Future of Transness in Cinema. His work has been published in Film Comment, MUBI, Los Angeles Review of Books, Reverse Shot, and the Criterion Collection.

Willow Catelyn Maclay (she/her/hers) is a freelance film critic and co-author of Corpses, Fools and Monsters: An Examination of Trans Film Images in Cinema. She has written for numerous outlets including The Village Voice, Polygon, MUBI, Film Comment, and Reverse Shot.



Directors: Mirha-Soleil Ross and Xanthra MacKay

Canada, 1993, Digital video, color, 26 min.

This politically-driven radical ‘t4t’ lesbian romance short put off the more mainstream gay film festivals in Canada at the time. Mirha-Soleil Ross (Jeanne B.) and Xanthra Mackay (Xanthra Philippa) made their names in alternative circles for their trans zine Gendertrash from Hell but it was evident the world was not yet ready to engage with their dialogue on trans femininity and sexuality. Such rejection propelled Ross and MacKay (Xanthra Philippa) to launch Counting Past 2: Performance-Film-Video-Spoken Word with Transsexual Nerve! in Toronto that was committed to showing exclusively trans artists and performers that were otherwise ignored by the city’s cultural institutions.

Maggots and Men

Director: Cary Cronenwett

USA, 2009, Digital video, b&w, 53 min. Screenwriter: Ilona Berger, Cary Cronenwett, Blake Nemec. With: Stormy Henry Knight and Max Wolf Valerio.

A multi-year undertaking that conjures the old Soviet film technique of Sergei Eisenstein and similar pastiche works by Guy Maddin, Cary Cronenwett’s spirited revisionist film places transmasculine bodies at the radical heart of the real-life 1921 Kronstadt Rebellion. Cronenwett and team reimagine the uprising through an epistolary narrative device that personalizes the political stakes of the film that remains prescient to today’s trans politics. Featuring one of the largest casts of trans actors in a film, Maggots and Men plays with cinema and history that is playful, poignant, and subversive.

Bigger on the Inside

Director: Angelo Madsen Minax

USA, 2022, Digital video, color, 12 min.

A trans man chats up with potential hookups on Scruff, watches YouTube tutorials, takes drugs, lies about taking drugs, and gazes up at the stars. Whether in the form of nudes, landscapes, and unsituated boundaries, the body becomes both a portal and lens through which to probe our most personal desires.