... it is almost impossible to decipher if the transphobia of the script is the result of ignorance of the trans experience or an attempt at (not very thoughtfully) examining a very real and problematic type of prejudice that does exist in legal and penal systems.
Kristen Stewart’s mom makes directorial debut with queer prison flick, ‘K-11’ By Kristin Ziegler Some of queer film history’s most acclaimed and cherished movies were anything but acclaimed and cherished upon their initial release. Films like Boys in the Band and Cruising were deemed homophobic – many LGBTQ film critics believed they portrayed gay men as self-loathing and ill-adjusted or sex-crazed and possibly murderous. New Queer Cinema, a film movement concomitant with the AIDS crisis, saw (now) iconic directors such as Gregg Aracki, Todd Haynes, and Bruce LaBruce lambasted for making raw, raunchy, and pissed off films that didn’t sit well with assimilationist gay critics. Most recently, Ticked of Trannies with Knives, featuring a cast of mostly transgender women, was deemed “transphobic” by LGBTQ advocacy groups. And yet all of these films have come to be regarded as milestones in queer cinema. K-11, a would–be homage to the fabulous women in prison and revenge fantasy films of the 1970s had it not taken itself so seriously, is bound to amass some of the same criticisms and outrage as some of the aforementioned films. Taking place in the Los Angeles County Jail, the film centers around a drugged up and blacked out record producer named Raymond Saxx Jr. (Goran Visnjic, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) who finds himself locked up in a unit exclusively designated for homosexual and transgender prisoners. The unit, K-11, is based on a real segregated dorm in the LACJ called K6G. Of course, Saxx is heterosexual. And being housed with a bunch of big, bad, scary gay criminals and their ruthless transsexual leader, Mousey (played by non-transsexual actress Kate del Castillo), just adds
to his nightmare of being incarcerated for reasons he still hasn’t even been able to piece together. Does K-11 sound homophobic? Yup. The film is also loaded with comments and references to transgender people not unlike those found among Fox News article comments. “Don’t get distracted by any of the females in here,” one officer instructs to a new employee. “There aren’t any females in here.” The transgender inmates are also referred to by prison guards as “Mr. so-and-so” and occasionally make comments about themselves that make it seem like they have an ill-understanding of what it is to be transgender or still see themselves as gay men (“You really are straight,” one trans inmate says after Saxx does not enjoy a kiss from her). However, it is almost impossible to decipher if the transphobia of the script is the result of ignorance of the trans experience or an attempt at (not very thoughtfully) examining a very real and problematic type of prejudice that does exist in legal and penal systems. It could certainly be the latter, as K-11’s writer and director Jules Stewart (a 30-year film industry veteran best known for her role as “Kristen Stewart’s mother”) has heart. Stewart made the picture, which is her directorial debut, with a mere $3 million budget. Still, she worked to have the film unionized, affording the cast and crew pay and benefits similar to those of larger productions. This whole-lot-of-heart also finds its way into Stewart’s pulp flick, keeping it beating, living, and, when push comes to shove (and there is quite a lot of that in K-11), worth watching. ] K-11 opens March 22 at the SIE Film Center, 2510 E. Colfax. ^ More info at DenverFilm.org.
march 20, 2013 | outfrontonline.com
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