The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers continues this month at the Clayton Center for the Arts with “MAN MADE”. Having won Best Documentary at several film festivals throughout 2018, this intimate and touching story is coming to Maryville later this month.
“MAN MADE” follows the lives of four transgender men as they prepare to compete at TransFitCon in Atlanta—the only all trans-bodybuilding competition in the world. The film focuses on not just the physical strength of these men, but also takes us into the heart of transgender male (FTM) culture and the accompanying struggles.
Rese is a young father struggling with periods of homelessness; Dominic seeks out to discover his past; Kennie admits to himself and his loved ones who he is for the first time in his life; and Mason works daily to be the man he’s always wanted to be–both on the inside and out.
The story follows the emotional and physical journeys as they navigate life, despite the very real risks in an often hostile social and political climate. This climate is why this documentary is “more vital than ever,” says filmmaker and director T Cooper, a transgender man himself.
“When protections for transgender people, and so many others, are being rolled back at alarming rates, and when violence against trans people is surging, and when a vociferous segment of the population—not to mention a new administration—is challenging our very right to exist as humans, I believe that this project and ones like it are extremely important.”
Cooper also stresses the importance of the film being made by the transgender community: “MAN MADE is unabashedly trans-made, offering unique and relevant transgender stories, which emerge from the inside out, as opposed to from the outside looking in. Like the subjects of this film, I know what’s involved in making the life-altering decision to turn yourself into the person you know you are, despite the world telling you for your whole life prior that you are something else.”
For the men of “MAN MADE”, it’s not about winning—it’s about being seen. “If we keep telling our stories,” Cooper says, “it will be harder and harder to erase us.” But these stories, and the many others in the transgender community, are just the beginning.
“Even though I am not a bodybuilder per se, I know what it means to envision and then actually take steps to build the body— and life—that you want. So in some ways, this is my story. But it is also the story of anybody who has done what it takes to become the person s/he is meant to be.”
“MAN MADE” will play in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall on Oct. 24 at 7:00 p.m. The event is $5 for the public and is free for students. A question and answer session with T Cooper will follow after the screening.