By Lucie Rachel

23 March 2017 - 16:33

'The universal message of the film is about change, and how to embrace it.' Film still (c) 'Where We Are Now', directed by Lucie Rachel.
'The universal message of the film is about change, and how to embrace it.' Film still ©

'Where We Are Now', directed by Lucie Rachel.

Lucie Rachel directed Where We Are Now, one of five short films on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, which form this year's #FiveFilms4Freedom. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Tell us about the film.

My film is an insight into my relationship with my transgender parent since she made the decision to transition. There are a lot of non-heteronormative families out there, and there isn't enough representation of us in the media. So I thought it was important to reach out to other people who are like us.

How did you approach making the film?

With great difficulty. It's a huge story, and we're a normal family, so we have a lot of other things going on with us. It wasn't simple to just show this one element of our lives. We needed to pick out the general message that we wanted to tell, without getting distracted by other things. After all, it is a short film, so there's only so much you can tell.

Was it difficult to approach your parent about the film?

I was a little bit worried before I approached her, because I'd already made one film and a photo book about my parents' relationship and her coming out. When I said that I wanted to make a new film, she was actually more excited than I thought she would be. She's a lot more confident now that she's decided to transition, so I think it was easier for her this time.

We lived in my parents' home for nine days while we shot the film. Being there was pretty intense, as I'm not used to living with my family. Making this documentary made us have a lot of conversations about things we wouldn't normally talk about. It had a positive impact on our relationship, because we were able discuss our feelings more. We're not usually that emotionally connected.

Do you plan to follow up this short film with a feature-length version? 

I probably wouldn't make another film, but I am attracted to the idea of another photo book or some other kind of format. With a photo book, I would be able to dip in and out and show different stages without being too invasive. It would be a bit more private and intimate. I want to let her get on with her life and her transition, without putting her in front of the camera again.

So I don't think I'd make a follow-up film. I might be tempted to make a feature-length fiction movie based on everything that's happened so far, as it’s a very complex story. That would be cool, but maybe not just yet.

What challenges did you face in making the film?

We got so much footage, that several different stories came out of one shoot. I worked with one editor for a few weeks and pulled out a story, but it wasn't the right story. So after working on the edit myself I worked with another editor and eventually managed to pull a different story together, which had the message that we wanted to tell.

I was also torn between whether to shoot it myself or bring in a cinematographer, because in a very close environment, having an extra person would change how my parent and I would interact. In the end, I decided to bring in a director of photography, but it was someone who is a very close friend, and my parent already knew about her. She uses the camera as if she's always shooting someone she loves, I really love that about her work, that she is so gentle with her subject.’

What does it mean to you to be part of #FiveFilms4Freedom?

It's not really sunk in yet. I'm still very early in my artistic and film-making career. To have one of my films seen by so many people is scary but also exciting. I'm glad to send out this message to countries that may not have access to these different perspectives and narratives.

Is an initiative like #FiveFilms4Freedom important in 2017?

While the UK is trying to keep moving forward with LGBT rights, there are many countries where LGBT rights are either receding or non-existent. Some of the audience may be in places where those aspects of their identity aren't perhaps being validated or acknowledged, so using film to reach out to people in those countries is definitely a positive thing.

What do you hope audiences around the world will take from the film?

Well, it's a very personal film, but the universal message is more about the idea of change, and how important it is to embrace it and move forward, whether it's positive or negative or messy. To be able to accept and love other people, it's important to accept and love who you are.

Watch the films for free online until 26 March 2017 [link no longer available]. 

#FiveFilms4Freedom is the first global digital LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) short film programme and is brought to you for a third year by the British Council and the British Film Institute (BFI).

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