Featuring post-screening Q&A with director Christian Sondregger via Skype
Debut feature documentarian Christian Sonderegger travelled from France to America’s midwest with precise ideas as to how he would record his half-brother’s gender change. What he didn’t expect was the story that would emerge around family, and how something that was vital to one family member could lead the others into soul searching.
Coby – as was Jacob’s transitioning name – was 23 and partnered with Sara when he decided to take testosterone in his first step to becoming male. Surgery came next, as did cutting his hair short to assist his family in their acceptance. With a world of YouTube viewers watching Coby emerge from his gender chrysalis, those closest to him arguably underwent the more radical change – a change of perspective – which is something that sits at the heart of this documentary and informs it even more than the physical awakening.
With Coby now reborn as Jacob, the final step in the transition is a hysterectomy; a crucial choice given Jacob’s partner, Sara, does not want to bear a child. Jacob’s father expresses the conundrum they face most eloquently when he says, “Changing has consequences. Not changing also has consequences.”
Classification: M – Mature themes, sexual references and coarse language
Distributor: Bonsai Films
Dates & Times:
Monday 28 May 2018 at 7pm (Plus Q&A)
I left for the United States with precise ideas as to how I was going to film my half-brother’s gender change. But as the shooting progressed, I felt that something deeper was at stake in the process.
Finally it was the whole family who opened up in front of my camera. I understood then that I was not simply going to document Coby’s transformation, but I felt I had to understand how those who were close to him had been supporting him all along.
The factual approach turned into emphasising the affective as well as the sensory aspect. We turn away from the body to get closer to the mind. The question then is not why, but how. The point is : what is at stake in the resulting changes within the family? So the movie was remodelled into a narrative relating the changes affecting not only Coby, but the whole family. Something which was vital to one of its members compelled the others to do some soul-searching. In their own way, they all had to overcome an ordeal. Eventually they emerged as more complete human beings.
This portrait of my half-brother has eventually turned into a metaphor for our capacity to evolve and adjust to the changes which we can’t elude – a situation which goes beyond the feeling of discomfort experienced by transgender people. As Will, Coby’s father, aptly puts it during the interview: “Changing has consequences, but not doing it has also consequences.”