On Monday, January 22nd, GLAAD hosted a double feature event, spotlighting the hard work and creativity of transgender storytellers at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.
Trans and nonbinary writers, directors, actors, allies, and activists came together at The Box Theater in Park City to celebrate the projects telling authentic trans stories and discuss the future of storytelling.
The event included two Fireside Chats, featuring panel discussions with Yance Ford and Shar Jossell, followed by Moi Santos, River Gallo, Sav Rodgers, and Alex Schmider.
Before the fireside chats commenced, Alex Schmider, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Representation, welcomed those in attendance and shared an urgent call-to-action.
“We’re here today to listen and learn from some incredible filmmakers and culture shifters who are catalyzing authentic storytelling from within and of our communities, through their own filmmaking and/or organizational work. Before, though, I bring up our first fireside chat, I want to acknowledge where we are. Just a few days ago, a dangerous bill HB 257 advanced in Utah, and we all should speak out against it.”
He went on to explain, “This bill, if passed, will make it a criminal offense for people to use a bathroom in a public building that doesn’t correspond to the gender on their birth certificate, among other things. I can’t overstate how dangerous this bill is, not only for trans people, but for anyone who doesn’t perfectly conform to conventional gender norms. That’s A LOT of us. Another bill attacks diversity and inclusion education efforts. This year’s Sundance Film Festival includes powerful films created by and centering trans people. If this bill becomes law, by next year, Sundance 2025…the people you will see on this stage will have to make decisions about their safety in order to be here. Many already are. It’s incumbent on all of us to speak out against this anti-trans legislation that not only endangers trans people, but anyone who is suspected of knowing their gender better than Utah’s government.”
The first conversation, moderated by award-winning journalist and media personality Shar Jossell, was an interview with director Yance Ford about his career and the premiere of his latest documentary Power at the Sundance Film Festival.
Power exposes the American policing system and shows how it has exploded in scope and scale over hundreds of years.
The second Fireside Chat, moderated by GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Representation and producer Alex Schmider, spotlighted trans storytellers and organization representatives, including Moi Santos; Manager, EIB, Sundance Institute, River Gallo; Actor/Screenwriter/Producer, Ponyboi, and Sav Rodgers; Director & Founder, Transgender Film Center.
The group discussed the impact of authentic personal filmmaking and their work creating opportunities for more.
Gallo spoke about their film Ponyboi, directed by Esteban Arango, which tells the story of a young intersex sex worker who must run from the mob after a drug deal goes sideways, forcing them to confront their past. The film has a star studded cast including Gallo, Dylan O’Brien, Victoria Pedretti, Murray Bartlett, and Indya Moore.