Screening @ qFLIX Worcester 2018, Saturday, October 13 @ 3:30 PM
In this utterly explosive military docudrama that’s already wowed SXSW crowds (no small feat in itself), militarism, politics and the LGTBQ+ cause are webbed together as our audience watches four ambitious transgender military officers deal with prejudice, social disharmony and familial love while they prepare to defy history, not to mention government, in rebelling against the political bans that could potentially defer them from serving in Donald Trump’s America. When we say that this one is explosive, we aren’t just referring to what could happen on the battlefield, but rather the corrosive component attached to an already red-hot cause. “TransMilitary” makes for a must see: it’s brutal AND beautiful and very, very smartly done… all at once.
It’s not styled in a parallel manner to that of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Hurt Locker” (2009), especially since collaborative directors Gabe Silverman (“After 17 Years,” “A New Country,” “A New Home”) and Fiona Dawson (“More Than He Knows”) focus not on screaming, nuclear machismo and uber bombings, but rather intelligently structured data, a thoughtful interviewing process and a clear thesis of how one political administration’s policies can be so dramatically juxtaposed with that of its successor. An academic exercise wedged deeply inside of the film’s core, “TransMilitary” is a scary smart ninety-three minute roller coaster ride by Dawson and Fiona.
Predictably, the praise that “TransMilitary” has been welcomed by SXSW (and now qFLIX), has resulted in numerous other critically acclaimed festivals such as Outfest, Human Rights Watch, AFI DOCS, and Frameline, and all having already screened or prepping to screen the film in a brilliant display of political unity for the transgender community. This one is going to make it all the way to the Pentagon. Rarely does a political docu-drama generate intrigue on so widespread a level.
What adds to the nuclear enthusiasm is the mere fact that our characters—a captain with family problems, a black man with nifty hairstyling skills amongst more, are NOT actors, but rather real-life soldiers. In matching capacity, we see the same when introduced in the film to our government leaders like Bradley Carson, a Pentagon employee who reveals very humane mixed feelings about the transgender cause or (Secretary of Defense) Ash Carter, who treats the group with similar empathy, are presented by our directors less as governmental bureaucratic, but as warm and open minded. It’s a clear and beautiful display of REALITY that is employed by our directors in the film.
This docudrama is a pristine example of why films about politics and militarism DON’T need to set their focus on dropping a (literal) bomb, but rather the interworking of policy and fact. We know going into this one that there are tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ identifiable military operatives, but “TransMilitary” successfully explores real life cases and makes us care about them. This is as good of a film that this particular genre has presented itself the last decade and is a must see, especially for the veterans in our audience.