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Pride, Protest and Questioning Convention: Crowdfunding Campaigns

Pride, Protest and Questioning Convention: Crowdfunding Campaigns

In a media-centric society where women’s
voices are often drowned by a deluge of mainstream, male-dominated narratives,
it is all too easy for any alternative story to slip underneath our radar. The projects we
have chosen to highlight this week, while demonstrating an array of varied
approaches to form all share a common objective: to deliver culturally profound and
politically engaged messages through the collective creative work of women.
These narratives question the legitimacy of institutional
ideologies and demonstrate that the lives of minorities should never be
dictated to by the norms of a majority. Our picks this week include an intricate love story about two
adults living with autism and a documentary about a transgender woman of color who was imprisoned after enduring a racist and transphobic attack. 

MACHO – Written and Directed by Faren Humes

What it’s about: After the tragic death of his transgender
mother, twelve-year old Macho is pressured by his uncle to adapt to traditional
molds of masculinity, lest he succumb to his mother’s fate. Against the small
town backdrop of Sanderson, Florida, myopic interpretations of gender
performance and the perpetuation of conservative gender stereotyping are challenged by a thought-provoking narrative that optimistically appeals to the
kinder, more empathetic aspects of humanity. The Kickstarter page succinctly
describes the film as “a story about acceptance; how to accept
those closest to you, as well as those who differ from you.”

Who is involved: Faren Humes, an independent up-and-coming filmmaker.

Why we’re interested: Any film that challenges gender norms and binaries warrants
recognition. Humes outlines “MACHO” as “an exploration of
masculinity, what it means to be a man, and […] the consequences of not being
that”. By shedding light on the damaging effects of such ideals, the director underscores how important it is to expose the
patriarchal foundations from which they are built. 

The deadline: Fundraising ends on the Kickstarter page on
July 12th.

Keep the Change – Written and Directed by Rachel Israel

What it’s about:
Originally an
award-winning short, “Keep the Change” is a story about David
(Brandon Polansky), a man who is struggling to hide his high-functioning
autism. After attending a support group for people on the autism spectrum,
David falls in love with Sarah (Samantha Elisofon), a young woman who helps alter
his perspective concerning their shared condition. Actors living with autism play the characters. 

Who is involved: Rachel Israel, a freelance filmmaker with MFA from Columbia University’s
School of the Arts Film Division.

Why we’re interested: Israel states on the crowdfunding page“Show
the world what actors with autism can bring to the big screen. The world needs
a film that shows the intensity of emotional relationships adults on the
spectrum have with each other. Have you ever seen a character with autism
portrayed authentically?” Israel makes a valid point: we’re rarely offered genuine explorations of disabled characters onscreen, especially
in Hollywood. Whenever attempts are made to explore such a complex
subject, we don’t get to see actors with real life disabilities
playing these roles. The film challenges what many of us have
been conditioned to expect from a film centered around a love story between two
people (one that offers us the same conventional narrative time and again) and
instead provides us with a story that is fearless in its portrayal of autism,
complete with multifaceted characters who communicate to us the profound
complexities of life.

The deadline: Fundraising ends on the film’s Seed&Spark page on July 17th.

FREE CeCe! (Documentary) – Written, Directed and Produced by Jacqueline
Gares and Co-produced by Laverne Cox

What it’s about:
“FREE CeCe!” is
a documentary that follows the story of CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman of
color who was imprisoned after surviving a racist and transphobic attack in
Minneapolis in 2011. The film explores her incarceration, eventual release and
life after imprisonment as an activist and prison abolitionist. Jacqueline Gares and Laverne Cox’s
film is hugely significant for its indomitable spirit and bold confrontation
of the systematic injustice that lingers throughout America (and the rest of the

Who is involved: Jacqueline Gares, an
independent filmmaker with over 15 years worth of experience in film and
television production, and Laverne Cox, star of “Orange is the New

Why we’re interested: Despite the
overwhelming presence of institutionalized violence against people of color
and the LGBTQ community in the US, the notion of a “post-racial” society is still damagingly widespread. In truth, as well as
having to face the constant threat of racial, homophobic and transphobic
attacks across the country, minority groups are often also victims of a law
enforcement system that seems to be structured to the advantage of America’s
white (male) population. Indeed, statistics show that African Americans now
constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population
and 1 in 100 African American Women are in prison.
As such, a documentary like
“FREE CeCe!” opens up space for further discussion concerning
the toxic spread of racial and gender discrimination in the US (and elsewhere). 

The deadline: Thanks to partial funding from
an earlier crowdfunding campaign, the team have already managed to shoot the
entire film. However, post-production costs have yet to be covered, so
contributors can donate to the film’s post-production crowdfunding page until
July 19th.

Pride Denied: Homonationalism & the Future of Queer Politics (Documentary) –
Directed and Edited by Kami Chisholm

What it’s about: The Kickstarter page for “Pride Denied” explains that the documentary “focuses on sites of
ongoing oppression of queer and trans people that have been largely obscured in
the mainstream media by the celebration of advances like marriage rights… ‘Pride
Denied’ asks: what is ‘pride’? And what does it mean to us now, in
2015?” The film takes a critical look at the corporate co-opting of what
was once a profoundly radical event and what this might mean for the future of
gay liberation and human rights.

Who is involved: Kami Chisholm, an
experienced filmmaker with a PhD in History of Consciousness and Feminist
Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is currently
finishing an MFA in Film Production at York University in Canada.

Why we’re interested: To criticize
the celebration of LGBTQ advances by the mainstream media is by no means to
undermine or take for granted how far we have come in the struggle for gay
rights: It shows a valid concern for the ways in which corporations engage with LGBTQ causes to make gay liberation profitable. Commericial interests
of corporate companies — especially when it comes to advocating gay rights — should
always be questioned, which is why Chisholm’s documentary is an important one. As the Kickstarter page describes, “[P]ride is big business. Non-profits formed for the purpose of hosting
pride events … sport multi-million dollar budgets. But where and how is
this money spent? And to what end?” By highlighting the ways in which social
issues are often obfuscated by the mainstream media and its appropriation of
gay culture, “Pride Denied” opens up space for valuable

The deadline: Fundraising ends on the Kickstarter page on
July 20th.

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