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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Sexuality > Gendernauts - A Journey Through Shifting Identities

Gendernauts – A Journey Through Shifting Identities


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Documentary: C+



I have not been a big fan of the work of Monika Treut, more for form and presentation that even content, but sometimes that has been lame too.  Seduction: The Cruel Woman (1985, reviewed elsewhere on this site) was a bomb, no matter how well intended it may somehow, have been (I guess).  The Virgin Machine (1988, also on the site) was another narrative work that did not work, but it was more successful by default by simply having some coherent moments that actually rang true.  Gendernauts – A Journey Through Shifting Identities (1999) is an outright documentary project and is the best of the three by default leaving Truet’s pretensions behind and giving us a view of people still forced to live somewhat in an underground.


She interviews many transgender males and females, who she befriends on a journey to San Francisco, where persons who want to live their life this way can do it more openly than in most parts of the world.  This easily works best when the people we meet are the focus; their joys and dreams are just like everyone else’s, even if the type may strike many as unusual.  The resulting near-90 minutes are never heavy handed in this respect.  Though not a great work, it is a simple, direct and honest one.  More could have been made of this opportunity or be done with it, but this is not bad, though we have seen the subject covered a bit better in other documentary and fiction films.  Still, those interested should be sufficiently satisfied.


The 1.33 X 1 image is soft and the camcorder taped events often on the fly, meaning the image is too often shaky, even when the subject is interesting.  This was shot on older analog NTSC video and has some color bleeding as well.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is barely stereo and again the sound that was taped on the scene on the fly.  It could be worse, but it could have been better.  Extras include a trailer, bibliography, text essay, text on cast and crew, stills, two outtakes and two on-camera interviews that run about 12.5 minutes each.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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