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UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation present

Masc: Trans Men, Butch Dykes and Gender-nonconforming Heroes in Cinema

Two people smiling on a sofa.
August 19, 2023 -
August 25, 2023

spotlights a rich tapestry of stories of the courageous lives of trans men, butch lesbians, gender outlaws and gender nonconforming rebels. This program — co-curated by writer-archivist-filmmaker Jenni Olson and film critic Caden Mark Gardner — surveys six decades of cinema history in search of authentic, complex representations of masculine identity that exist outside the realm of cisheteronormative masculinity. Featuring tales of youth and adulthood, of obstacles and allies, this series presents multifaceted narratives of unforgettable subjects and characters. As with other under-represented groups, seeing ourselves on screen is a relatively rare experience for AFAB (assigned female at birth) transmasculine folks; this series encompasses a cinematically rich array of genres and styles, and these remarkable films offer a vital, necessary, transformative gift for all viewers.

Moving between fiction and non-fiction of varying lengths, Masc presents double features accompanied by special guests each night. This noteable cinematic collection offers a range of perspectives, together illuminating the evolution of gender identity and expression across time through various frameworks, contexts and settings. Featuring Dee Rees’ acclaimed coming-of-age film, Pariah, about a Black teen in Brooklyn navigating her gender identity; and the compassionate Sundance award-winning documentary, Southern Comfort, which explores still painfully relevant issues of ignorance and exclusion. Vera is the dramatization of a real-life trans figure in Brazil, and No Ordinary Man is an acclaimed rehabilitation of a real-life trans figure of the past. There are winning portraits of butch heroes in Chavela and Lifetime Guarantee: Phranc’s Adventures in Plastic, while Maggots and Men presents a revisionist homage to Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin that reimagines the past to lead us into the future. Shinjuku Boys and The Aggressives spotlight butch and masculine subcultures within their unique time and place, and an eclectic collection of shorts are showcased in Masc: The Shorts. While these films are grouped within the broader umbrella of masc, the nuances, intersections and differences of what butch and trans can represent on-screen also serve as the series’ own continuous dialogue. Masc is ultimately a cinematic celebration giving recognition and dignity to the courageous queer visionaries who have blazed these trails and who continue to show the way forward and inspire us all.

Series curated and notes written by Caden Mark Gardner and Jenni Olson.

Special thanks to our community partners: Butch Monthly LA, Everybody Los Angeles, Magiq Hour, ONE Archives Foundation, OutWrite Magazine, UCLA LGBTQ Campus Resource Center.

Past Programs & Events

Title Date and Time Location
Three people in suits, neon signs in the background.

Lifetime Guarantee: Phranc’s Adventure in Plastic / Shinjuku Boys

Friday, August 25, 2023 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Two people on a sofa.

Masc: The Shorts + The Aggressives

Thursday, August 24, 2023 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Two people laughing together.

Maggots and Men / Pariah

Monday, August 21, 2023 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater
A person in a suit.

CANCELED: Southern Comfort / Vera

Sunday, August 20, 2023 - 7:00 pm Billy Wilder Theater
Jazz musician Billy Tipton and two bandmates.

No Ordinary Man / Chavela

Saturday, August 19, 2023 - 7:30 pm Billy Wilder Theater