Watch: Transgender filmmaker explores London’s LGBT club scene

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Transgender filmmaker Jake Graf speaks to PinkNews about his new film, exploring London’s LGBT club scene.

The new film, Brace, has been shown at multiple queer film festivals around the world- and won multiple awards, including The Alfred C Kinsey Award at Bloomington Pride, Indiana and Best British Short at the Iris Prize Film Festival.

Being shot in some of London’s most infamous gay bars, including Manbar and Heaven, Brace has been described as “a visually stunning glimpse into London’s queer nightlife, and the perils that lurk behind the bright lights…”

The film aims to push the boundaries of perception surrounding transgender people whilst still raising awareness of other social issues surrounding the LGBT community.

In an interview for PinkNews, Jake Graf noted how many people would never have seen anything similar to Brace – especially due to the short’s strong trans masculine theme.

He said of the film’s success: “I have messages daily from people who have watched Brace, and had never seen anything like it, particularly with it’s strong trans masculine theme. There is still a massive dearth of trans male content, and we made sure that the production values were as high as we could possibly afford on our meagre budget!

“We still have festivals requesting Brace since its online release, so it will continue to do the rounds, and hopefully shed a little more light on the gay trans male experience.”

Mr Graf added that focus on transgender rights has widened phenomenally over the past year or so – with the film’s writer and producer calling it “like the gay rights movement but on speed”.

He said: “It’s crazy how trans issues have taken off in the last year or so. People seem to remember that it was Caitlyn Jenner’s big coming out that precipitated it, but this has been going on for some time.

“People like Paris Lees, Stephen Whittle, Sarah Lennox and so on have been fighting this fight in the UK for a long time, and it is because of people like them that we are starting to find acceptance in the mainstream.

“The fact that they are currently casting for a trans character in EastEnders, that Transparent has won Emmys, that transman Aydian Dowling is hopefully about to become the first transman ever to grace a mainstream publication’s cove… all of these are extremely positive signs, and it would be hard to believe even 3 years ago that we would be where we are now.

“It feels like the gay rights movement, but on speed!”

He added: “I guess we still have a lot of catching up to do, particularly as there is so much infighting within the trans ‘community’ that mediation is needed on a regular basis! If things keep moving as they have been, hopefully being trans will lose the stigma that it currently still very much has.

“When a community is made up of so many different cultures, social castes, ages, and races, with the only unifying aspect being the ‘affliction’ or ‘condition’ of being transgender, rallying the troops really isn’t that easy!

“Unlike the gay community, we don’t even all have sexuality to unite us. Hopefully though, as legislation advances for trans people’s rights, and there is more trans visibility in the media and in daily life, things will get easier, and we’ll all learn to just get along.”

Alicya Eyo – of ITV’s Bad Girls notoriety – worked on the project with Jake and took on the role of co-director along with Sophy Holland.

She said: “We wanted to shoot this very honest and emotional storyline in the most beautiful way possible”.

With trans issues taking off over the past year, films such as this are vital because, as the filmmaker explained: “I just remember that growing up there were no reference points or role models at all for trans teens, so I think that, more than anything, is a reason to stay positive, and carry on telling these stories”.

The film’s cinematography, acting and soundtrack from NY duo Kazbaa work together to provide an insight into the trans community within London’s nightlife. The film’s creator stated, “Hopefully though, as legislation advances for trans people’s rights, and there is more trans visibility in the media and in daily life, things will get easier, and we’ll all learn to just get along.”

You can watch the film in full below: