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by Karen Pecota

Chase Joynt, Canada | USA 2022

Filmmaker Chase Joynt collaborates with Morgan M. Page to write, produce, and direct a fascinating portrayal of a transgender woman we know as Agnes who participated in Harold Garfinkel's gender health research at UCLA during the 1960s in their documentary FRAMING AGNES. Joynt and Page bring to life groundbreaking observations of trans health care but go beyond Agnes's story. Their visual storytelling draws the audience in with black and white film footage (fiction and non-fiction), exceptional artistic vintage reenactments, and stellar performances.

In the late 1950s, a woman named Agnes approached the UCLA Gender Clinic seeking gender affirming surgery. The story of Agnes was long considered to be unique, until never-before-seen case files of other patients seeking similar care were found inside a rusted-shut filing cabinet in 2017.

Joynt and Page blend fiction and nonfiction to explore and widen the perspective through which trans history is viewed. Agnes's story remains somewhat narrow to capture the multiplicity of her experiences according to the documentation that surfaced from Garfinkel's research.

An impressive lineup of trans stars (Zackary Drucker, Angelica Ross, Jen Richards, Max Wolf Valerio, Silas Howard and Stephen Ira) collectively work together to reimagine transgender history to learn but also break down the myth of isolation that the transgender community has suffered. Joynt notes, "Isolation was, in fact, a narrative produced and patrolled by medicine and the media. For example: Christine Jorgensen's interviews on early talk shows in the 1950s are still referenced as the singular turning point in televised trans history."

Joynt says, "Representation of trans and gender nonconforming communities has changed dramatically in the last decade. FRAMING AGNESemerges as an incisive opportunity to both acknowledge social transformation and remember the formative. It's rooted in a flier that trans people should remain leaders of the trans movement, and aerators of trans stories." Adding, "This project is uniquely positioned to address critical questions that are being illuminated by the current spotlight on trans issues."