Director Sam Feder’s documentary “Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen” shows that through 100 years of cinema and popular culture, trans people and ideas about what it means to be trans have actually been very visible on screen, but many of those images have been “violent and dehumanizing.”
Feder’s film argues that we’ve been programmed to think a certain way about trans people based on this long history of seeing trans people as villains or jokes, and he hopes “Disclosure” forces cis gendered folks to what these stories have said for the past 100 years.
“Start to think about how the images of the past 100 years inform how non trans people understand trans people and how we’ve learned to understand ourselves.,” Feder told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at Sundance. “I want people to have the model by watching this movie to then interrogate their own ideas of who trans people are and connect it to what they came up watching again and again and how that’s related.”
“That sounds like a paper, but it’s really entertaining too,” subject of the documentary Jen Richards chimed in.
Richards applauded Feder’s film for how it doesn’t just provide a history lesson but is structured such that different film clips all edited together help evoke tropes and biases that have been prevalent in film for decades. “Disclosure” intercuts scenes from famous movies and TV shows with interviews with trans influencers and storytellers. And Richards said she was greatly affected by one sequence that showed straight, cis men vomiting whenever they realized a woman was really a man.
Richards also remembers her mom suddenly noticing in just the average night of watching TV how often trans people are casually ridiculed.
“I think after the third time in that one night that there was a joke about a woman really being a man, she looked over and was like, I never noticed this before,” Richards said. “That’s the kind of thing I think this film can do. It’s something that you might just not notice otherwise, but this film will raise a critical consciousness that people will start to notice these kinds of depictions, think about the impact they have and advocate for change, obviously just not accept that anymore.”
Check out TheWrap’s interview with Feder and Richards from Sundance above.