The New Zealand Herald video series TransGenerations has been awarded best web series at the Berlin Short Film Festival.
The eight-part programme tells the stories of transgender Kiwis from their late 70s to early 20s, documenting the history of trans experience in New Zealand and dispelling stereotypes about who trans people are.
Producer Naashon Zalk of Trajectory Media said he and his team had been delighted by the international response to TransGenerations, which was made with the support of NZ On Air and published on nzherald.co.nz in July and August.
“So far we’ve been showcased in the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia and Korea.”
Since its release, TransGenerations has featured at the British International Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Awards (currently a quarter-finalist), Berlin Short Film Festival (winner, best webseries), Vancouver Independent Moviemaker awards (currently a semi-finalist), Sydney Web Fest, NZ Web Fest (nominated for Best Show, Factual), Arizona Women’s Festival, KWebfest (nominee) and Melbourne Independent Film Festival (currently a semi-finalist).
Zalk said the series came at an important time.
“In the past few years, there has been an alarming international rise in anti-trans rhetoric, anti trans violence and anti-trans legislation. We hope this series helps, in its own small way, to counterbalance that by showing the realities of what it means to be trans in this day and age.”
Herald editor Murray Kirkness said nzherald.co.nz was proud to deliver a series that gave an honest portrayal of trans people’s lives in this country.
“We’re very encouraged to see that international judges feel the same way and hope the series continues its great run in other short film festivals around the world.”
So far the series has had more than 70,000 views on the Herald’s website and app.
TransGenerations was filmed at a time of increased visibility for trans people, which comes across in several scenes, from celebrations at the Big Gay Out to the angry crowds who protested against anti-trans activist Posie Parker.
As host Brady Peeti, a trans actor and singer, explained in a Herald interview, in many ways now is the best of times to be trans. In parts of society trans issues and rights are now being championed and being trans is increasingly becoming normalised.
But in other ways, she feels it’s never been more dangerous, as shown in a backlash of anti-trans hatred following Parker’s short lived visit to this country.
“It’s hard being trans because just existing can piss some people off,” says Peeti in the opening episode.
“No one makes this decision lightly. I don’t think it’s ever not difficult, if I’m being honest with you.”
Characters in the series range from a 78-year-old who transitioned at the age of 50 to a prominent activist in their 20s. They talk frankly about identity and prejudice, being forced into sex work and surviving prison, family life in all its forms - and their passions for sport, politics and the arts.
TransGenerations is made with the support of NZ On Air. To follow the series, see nzherald.co.nz/transgenerations