It remains unnecessarily difficult for trans films to get finance, even those with big names attached. As exciting new films like ‘Monica’ and ‘Something You Said Last Night’ finally get delayed releases, a new advent of sensitively rendered trans films is on the horizon. After premiering at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where this critic was impressed by its subtle humor and intimate storytelling, the charming family drama “Something You Said Last Night” hits theaters this summer. IndieWire is proud to present an exclusive preview of the trailer.
Coming from first-time director Luis De Filippis, “Something You Said Last Night” takes place over the span of just one week during a tight-knit family’s summer lakeside vacation. The film stars magnetic newcomer Carmen Madonia as Renata, a 20-year-old trans woman still navigating the turmoil of early adulthood. In a refreshing twist to most of her trans stories, she has a fairly healthy relationship with her family, and is particularly close to her rambunctious and overly supportive mother Mona (Ramona Milano).
That familial bond was important for De Filippis to showcase, who says she’s ready for a new normal when it comes to trans storytelling.
“My relationship with my mother is very warm and very supportive, and we just don’t see those stories about trans women and relationships with their mothers,” De Filippis told IndieWire during a recent phone interview. “There’s usually some sort of lesson that the mother has to get, or by the end of the film, the mother is okay with it. But I really want to tell a story about what happens after all those conversations happen. What if the mother never had a problem with it to begin with? What if the mother had always been the biggest cheerleader?
The film perfectly captures the claustrophobic feeling of being trapped with your family when you feel like an adult but don’t yet live like one. Stuck in a tiny hotel room, Renata is a typical twentysomething lost, trying to find her place in the world and figuring out how to follow her passions while keeping herself. Her trans identity is omnipresent because she is an indelible part of who she is and how she experiences the world, but her story is universal.
“I just wanted to tell the story of a trans girl, but at the heart of the story is her relationship with her family and how she navigates the world,” De Filippis said. “Some of her issues occur because she’s trans, but a lot of them aren’t because she’s trans, it’s just because she’s a young woman going through what a young woman is going through today.”
While “Monica” was a major achievement for trans cinema, De Filippis is one of a growing list of trans filmmakers telling their own stories. Vuk Lungulov-Klotz’s ‘Mutt’ will be released from Strand later this summer, as will two excellent documentaries by trans female filmmakers, ‘Kokomo City’ and ‘The Stroll’. But there is always more progress to be made.
“We need different kinds of stories about different kinds of trans women,” De Filippis said. “Those are all victories, but where we still lack are the fictional stories told by trans women about trans women. That said, I’m personally not going anywhere. I will continue to tell stories that I want to tell, and if there’s one thing the Dolls have, it’s toughness. So let’s move on.”
“Something You Said Last Night” will be released in theaters in Canada on July 7 and will be available in the United States in August.