We’re very excited to announce that Fringe! will screen an exclusive preview of video artist/lecturer Sam Feder’s new documentary Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger. Sam kindly agreed to a interview to discuss the film and Sam’s body of work which spans over ten years. In 2006, Sam’s transgender documentary Boy I Am played at festivals throughout the world to great acclaim. In Queer and Pleasant Danger, Sam turns an intimate focus on Kate Bornstein, renowned transgender gender theorist, author, artist and all round charming figure. Sam describes the film as ‘not a biographical report on someone’s life or a linear story, it is a study of a human being and an exploration of form and content to reflect the complexities of Kate and her world. The film looks at Kate’s life journey as a shape shifter, gender theorist, and means of surviving great depression while engaging with nature of art, community, being queer and transgender.’
Sam will be screening a 15-minute teaser at Fringe! for what will be an hour long feature film premiering Fall 2012 before our screening of Riot Acts at The Hackney Picture House on Friday 13th April 2012. Tickets are on sale now.
It’s quite clear why Kate is such as interesting figure for a documentary, so I don’t need to ask why, but rather how did the project develop from start to filming? Was Kate always involved or did it involve some persuading?
Kate saw my first film in 2006 (Boy I Am, www.boyiam.com) and was really supportive. I interviewed her for a project in 2008 about transfeminine activists, which is still in post-production. In, 2009, I began making short portraits of artists as a way to explore different themes in media and play with the medium. I wanted to make a feature portrait on Kate, so out of the blue I emailed her and she was thrilled. In early versions of this film there is footage of the two of us negotiating the project, what we will do, what we won’t do, what we are comfortable with, etc. I am not sure that will make it into the final cut. Besides that there was no persuasion involved at all. Kate has been 100% supportive from the start.
Why is Kate such an important figure for you?
Kate and her work provide me with context, language, and permission to be the type of queer I am in the culture we live; and, this has saved me from deep self-torture many times. Ultimately, as a filmmaker, that is the message about Kate that I want to pass on. She is also a seminal theorist in gender theory whose work is taught within but transcends the academy. Kate epitomizes the manifestation of the marriage of theory and practice which is rarely seen. The film portrays her remarkable ability to present and perform critical theory in digestable ways.
Gender/transgender is featured throughout your body of work. Can you explain in your own words why? Do you feel as though you’ve been building up to Queer & Pleasant Danger or is it just another facet of ideas you’ll continue to explore?
My work since 2003, has been focused on gender mirroring my personal process, questions, and the queer urban community in New York that I live in. Once Boy I Am was screening, I became increasingly aware of the responsibility and power of the filmmaker and I’ve been actively exploring how to incorporate that into my film-making practice. That is a theme I have been sussing out in short films these past few years. One example is No More Lies (http://samfeder.com/past-work). Working on portraits allows me to work with that issue more overtly while experimenting with production, content, and editing in ways I haven’t before. I would love to shoot more portraits. As for featuring gender in my work, since I’m forced to negotiate my gender in the world everyday, I assume it will always make its way into my films.
For more information on Sam, visit samfeder.com. Kate maintains her own blog, Kate Bornstein’s Blog for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws. Her memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger will be published by Beacon Press on May 1, 2012.
Tickets are now on sale for the teaser screening before Riot Acts at The Hackney Picture House on Friday 13th April 2012.