The Human Impact

Do gender and sexuality really matter anymore?

Contestants wait for the start of the annual race on high heels during Gay Pride celebrations in the quarter of Chueca in Madrid

Contestants wait for the start of the annual race on high heels during Gay Pride celebrations in the quarter of Chueca in Madrid

When I sat down with directors Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini to discuss “Mala Mala,” their documentary which premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, I took out my laptop and went over my questions one more time, as I always do.

It turns out I didn’t really need them, as the interview quickly turned into a striking conversation about gender and its many nuances, love and how we perceive ourselves.

Santini and Sickles decided to make what would have become “Mala Mala”- a raw and honest film about the trans community in Puerto Rico – after a trip to Austin, Texas, where they met a drag queen named Maggie McMuffins. The two filmmakers loved her performance and met with her the following day when Maggie told them she was married and had a daughter–and that she had just started transitioning from male to female.

“Three months into her transition, she was completely and utterly open with us about (it). Antonio and I didn’t know about gender… we’re not experts in that sense,” Sickles told me as we sipped sodas in a film studio in lower Manhattan.

Gender identity a top theme at Tribeca Film Festival

Music may have been the biggest theme at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, but movies exploring gender identity and sexuality also made a strong mark at the event, which wraps up on Sunday in New York.

Among them was “Mala Mala,” about the trans community in conservative Puerto Rico, and “Something Must Break,” a Swedish drama depicting the difficult love story of a young man whose looks defy gender norms and his straight-identifying boyfriend.

“The whole process of filming was really investigative, we were curious,” “Mala Mala” co-director Antonio Santini told Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We had no other intention rather than understanding.”

Can a mother truly hate her own son?

One line in Bad Hair, which had its U.S. premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York, has made me uncomfortable for days.

“I don’t love you,” Junior, the nine-year-old protagonist of Venezuelan director Mariana Rondón’s movie, tells his mother in the emotionally charged scene.

You would expect a mother to dismiss such a dramatic statement and rebuke her son for speaking such nonsense but all that Marta, Junior’s mother, says is: “Neither do I.”

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