It remains needlessly difficult for trans films to secure funding — even ones with big names attached. As exciting new films like “Monica” and “Something You Said Last Night” finally secure overdue releases, a new advent of sensitively rendered trans films is on the horizon. After premiering at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where this critic was impressed by its subtle humor and intimate storytelling, the charming family dramedy “Something You Said Last Night” will hit theaters this summer. IndieWire is proud to premiere the trailer exclusively.
Hailing from first time feature filmmaker Luis De Filippis, “Something You Said Last Night” takes place over a single week during one tight-knit family’s lakeside summer vacation. The film stars magnetic newcomer Carmen Madonia as Renata, a 20-something trans woman who is still navigating the confusion of early adulthood. In a refreshing turn from most trans stories, she has a fairly healthy relationship with her family, and she’s especially close with her rambunctious and overly supportive mother Mona (Ramona Milano).
That family bond was important to show for De Filippis, who says she’s ready for a new normal when it comes to trans narratives.
“My relationship with my mother is very warm and very supportive, and we just don’t see those stories about trans women and the relationships with their mothers,” De Filippis told IndieWire during a recent phone interview. “Usually there’s some kind of lesson that the mother has to be taught, or by the end of the film, the mother’s on board. But I really want to tell a story about what happens after all those conversations have had happened. What if the mother never had an issue with it to start off with? What if the mother was always the biggest cheerleader?”
The film perfectly captures the claustrophobic feeling of being trapped with your family when you feel like an adult but don’t quite live like one yet. Stuck in a tiny hotel room, Renata is a typical lost 20-something, trying to find her place in the world and figuring out how to follow her passions while supporting herself. Her trans identity is omnipresent because it’s an indelible part of who she is and how she experiences the world, but her story is universal.
“I really just wanted to tell a story about a girl who is trans, but what’s at the center of the story is her relationship with her family and how she’s moving through the world,” De Filippis said. “Some of her issues are occurring because she’s trans, but a lot of them are not because she’s trans, it’s just because she’s a young woman going through what a young woman goes through today.”
While “Monica” was a major achievement for trans cinema, De Filippis is part of a growing roster of trans filmmakers telling their own stories. Vuk Lungulov-Klotz’s “Mutt” will get a release from Strand later this summer, as well as two excellent documentaries from trans women filmmakers, “Kokomo City” and “The Stroll.” But there is always more progress to be made.
“We need different types of stories about different types of trans women,” De Filippis said. “These are all wins, but where we’re still lacking is fictional stories being told by trans women about trans women. That being said, I’m personally not going anywhere. I’m going to keep telling stories I want to tell, and if there’s one thing the Dolls have, it’s tenacity. So let’s keep going.”
“Something You Said Last Night” hits theaters in Canada on July 7 and will be available in the U.S. in August.