Every year for the past 10 years, I at least try to see one or two films at Cleveland's International Film Festival. I especially always try to see the film sponsored by a local organization near to my heart, Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG). This year along with Margie's Hope, another local organization headed by a dear friend of mine dedicated to helping Transgender individuals in need, the film sponsored was "Man Made," directed by T Cooper.
"Man Made" is T Cooper's first film project. It has already won 12 awards at other film festivals around the United States. During a public chat session after the film's first screening at Cleveland's festival, Cooper remarked that a majority of the stories and press around the Trans community were from transwomen — not transmen. Also, the stories were not told by a Trans community member. He wanted to see more projects in the world that represented everyone in the Trans community — told by transgender individuals. This film was his contribution towards that dream.
The film follows four transmen; Dominic, Rese, Mason, and Kennie. These men are all training for Trans FitCon, a BodyBuilding competition specifically for transmen.
At the screening was Mason and his wife, who live here in Cleveland. Mason has competed and placed in BodyBuilding competitions where no one knew he is a transman. He is the son-in-law to one of the Advisory Board members of PFLAG, and he met Ellen DeGeneres before his transition at her “Here and Now" stand up comedy show in New York where he's from.
The movie covered many other intersectionalities of these men's lives. Dom's top surgery and meeting his birth mother. Rese's homelessness, single parenthood, and eventual marriage to a transwoman who is also a single parent. Kennie's relationships with his girlfriend and his family before and during starting testosterone injections. The brief glimpses into some of the other competitors like Tommy, a Heavyweight competitor from a very religious household, and Shawn, two time Trans FitCon Overall Winner turned Judge of the competition.
This movie seriously gives one all the feels, no matter what gender, race, or sexuality one is, this film will make you see what love really is. It will make you see what gender really is. It will make you see what race has to do with things. It will also make you see what sadness really is. It will make you see what loneliness really is. It will make you see heartbreak up close and personal. It will make you see hate and discrimination and violence. It will even make you see blood one has to lose to transition.
This piece of mine doesn't do this film enough credit. See the film. Don't just see it because I'm writing about it. Don't just see it because you're part of LGBTPQA+ community. Don't just see it because you're an ally of the community. See it to truly see what it takes to be man-made.