Wednesday, 13th July, 2022
With the support of Film Hub Wales’ (FHW) Made in Wales (MIW) project, two new films from Welsh talent, that follow the lives of Trans women in India and the USA, are coming to cinemas this year.
‘Donna’ and ‘Being Hijira’ are debut features from directors with roots in Wales, that tell international Trans led stories, at a pivotal time for Transgender communities.
‘Donna’ which is distributed by Bohemia Media, is the debut feature of Welsh director Jay Bedwani. The film, which releases on July 15th 2022, tells the story of Donna Personna who first hit the stage with the legendary Cockettes. Now in her seventies, she is offered a chance to co-write a play about an overlooked episode in queer history – the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, in which transgender women Donna knew, stood up against police harassment.
Jay Bedwani, Director of ‘Donna’ spent five years travelling from Cardiff to California to document Donna’s story, and formed a life-long friendship in the process. He explains:
“I feel very privileged to bring the story of an older transgender woman onto Welsh screens. I hope Donna’s message and spirit will resonate with audiences as much as it does with me.”
‘Being Hijra’, from West Wales based Director, Ila Mehrotra (Spring Films) which will release later this year, is a deeply personal, emotionally charged journey filmed over 6 years, which chronicles the pain and pride of Rudrani Chettri and the transgender community of New Delhi as they set about creating India’s first transgender model agency.
Ila Mehrotra explains:
‘‘Developing the story of the often exoticized Hijra community in the most humane and relatable way has been an absolute pleasure. The support and interest from Film Hub Wales fills me with excited enthusiasm, to bring the film onto Welsh screens hoping it resonates humanly across the board.’’
Both films are supported by ‘Made in Wales’, a FHW project which celebrates films with Welsh connections, giving a platform to lesser known stories from Wales that represent real Welsh communities. FHW are working with Bohemia and Spring Films to ensure that audiences have the opportunity to hear from the Directors through exclusive interviews and build global solidarity with Trans audiences represented on screen, at their local independent cinema.
Later this year, audiences can also look forward to ‘T.L.C’ aka Tender Loving Care for Trans-Led/Trans-Loved Cinema – a series of special events exploring trans-led cinema releases from FHW’s Inclusive Cinema project.
Radha Patel, Made in Wales Officer at Film Hub Wales explains:
“These documentaries mark an important cultural milestone. Filmmakers are often told that there is only room for ‘one marginalised story’ at a time. By breaking this trend, Welsh cinema sends an important message to Trans people, particularly young trans people, affirming their identifies and their right to self-determination.”
Both films received funding from Ffilm Cymru Wales, the national development agency which invests in the development and production of short and feature length films from emerging and established Welsh and Wales-based filmmakers.
Kimberely Warner, Head of Production at Ffilm Cymru Wales explains:
“We’re so proud to have worked with Jay and Ila on their impressive feature documentary debuts. It’s so important to ensure visibility for our diverse trans communities who represent all racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as faith traditions. Both Being Hijra and Donna centre the experiences of two incredible women and their individual journeys of self. Their stories will help pave the way for others and we’re certain that both will reach a global audience.”
MIW offers a host of year-round activities in partnership with Welsh exhibitors, including a film catalogue which hosts over 600 shorts and features with Welsh connections.
MIW is made possible thanks to funding from Creative Wales, along with support of the BFI Film Audience Network, awarding funds from the National Lottery. FAN offers support to exhibitors across the whole of the UK, to boost cultural programming and engage diverse audiences. Funds in Wales are administered by FHW via Chapter as the Film Hub Lead Organisation.
More than £30M is raised each week for good causes across the UK by the National Lottery.
Download the full press release here.