In his documentary essay “Desire Lines”, in development and presented at the Ji.hlava New Visions Forum: US Docs, Chicago-born Jules Rosskam talks about something he says is an “open secret” among transgender men: After coming out, many of them develop an attraction to other men.
“This idea is the driving force of the film. Everyone jokes about it but nobody really talks about it, ”said Rosskam. Variety. Now 42, he became trans in his early twenties.
“Back then in North America, trans people were subject to the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, which required you to be straight. You would be asked who you were drawn to because, God forbid, we create a queer person by letting someone make the transition. It was dangerous to be open about your desire and this story remained in the community, ”he maintains.
Interweaving interpreted scenarios with interviews and observation footage, Rosskam – also the originator of 2008’s “Against a Trans Narrative” and 2013’s “Paternal Rites” – will invite transgender and cisgender men to read the discussions. ‘connection apps in front of the camera, talking about their experiences and exploring the importance of public baths in queer culture, also during the HIV / AIDS crisis.
“In the 1980s and 1990s, gay and lesbian educators worked to make people understand that gender and sexuality were different things. I think maybe they worked a little too hard – yes, they’re different, but they’re not out of touch, ”he says.
“There is this assumption that people are straight unless otherwise stated, or that all trans men were lesbians before they dated. Which is not true – it’s a stereotype. In some people, their sexual orientation remains. The same. With others, they may have felt an attraction to a man, but as one of my interviewees described it, it was like having horse blinders. It is not “allowed.” in this category Once you’ve made the decision to change your gender in some way, it may be easier to give up on other rules.
The film will also include erotic encounters, shot in an abstract way that will create a “sensory experience” for the audience.
“They are filmed very closely. Sexual encounters, if they are positive, can produce this “collapse of space” between bodies. In my previous movie, “Thick Relations”, we attached little cameras to people’s bodies and talked to them about the type of sex relationship they wanted to portray. Then we left saying, ‘Call us when you’re done.’ It produced some very beautiful images, ”he says.
“I’m interested in how performative strategies can be used to gain real and lived experience. I have no allegiance to the capital “T” truth of the documentary. “
Its protagonists have contacted Rosskam directly, from all over the world, and although “Desire Lines” is not an international project at the moment, it could change in the future. Medical professionals and health experts will also be featured as HIV infection rates among transgender men rise, says Rosskam.
“I wanted to reach people I wouldn’t normally be able to meet because I never intended to prove a point. I make films because that’s how I learn about the world: I’m interested in portraying a wide range of voices, ”he says.
Another person he would like to contact? Elliot Page, who released trans in 2020.
“I think he’s a great performer, so I said, ‘Someone put me in touch with Elliot Page!’ But also, at this point, Elliot is the most famous transgender man in the world. I would like to talk to him and see how he can get involved in projects from the trans community. We have hardly seen trans men in the mainstream media, which is not true of trans women. We need more representation, showing trans men having a full range of desires. “
“Desire Lines” is produced by MamSir Productions and is scheduled for release in February 2024.