image+nation culture queer



The Agnes of lore – a young trans girl in the 50s who outsmarted her way to surgery – has been stuck in a binary between cautionary tale and folk hero, co-opted for demonization or celebration. The articulate, affecting Framing Agnes is here to try and understand and complicate that history. 

Filmmaker Chase Joynt and writer Morgan M. Page wrestle with Agnes’ iconic nature through an ingenious structure: a seamless blend of black-and-white talk show entertainment, erudite history lesson, self-examination, and the archival contents of a UCLA gender clinic’s rusted shut file cabinet. Reenactments from trans performers such as Angelica Ross (Pose), Jen Richards (Nashville, Mrs. Fletcher), and poet Max Wolf Valerio (The Testosterone Files) are contextualized by sociologists and scholars like Jules Gill-Peterson, as we contemplate what it meant to move through space as a black trans woman or confident transmasc teen in the 1950s. Embracing a performative mode of documentary with all its frictions, Joynt reveals the usually invisible mechanisms of filmmaking and the subjective shades of tackling the past through a stubbornly present lens. Finding powerful nuance somewhere between truth and a lie, where life takes place.

screening at Cinéma Moderne only | NOVEMBER 19TH 7PM