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Frances Arpaia

A Trans With a Movie Camera: A Cine-Essay

Frances Arpaia


Cinematic trans representation is something that’s been limited mainly to narrative fiction and documentary. What’s been lacking is a push to explore how cinema as a tool can be used to depict and examine trans identities. This is something I’ve tried to develop in all my short work, moving away from more narrative driven stories, towards more experimental forms of cinematic expression. For my thesis film, this is something I’ve continued by constructing a non-narrative essay film built from footage I’ve collected. The footage was created collaboratively by interviewing trans women I know about how they would like to be represented non-narratively on film. This was then documented on super 8 film. By combining this with other recordings I’ve made of events and spaces within the trans feminine community, I’ve constructed a short, 14-minute cine-essay examining the material I’ve collected. It’s with the use of classical montage, as well as other cinematic techniques, that I have transformed the footage to create new spaces and ideas within trans film. It is my hope that this project will serve as a proof of concept for the artistic possibilities inherent in trans feminine cinema outside of traditional narrative film and documentary.

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