An Australian first – Launch of three, provocative, short films highlighting the challenges of LGBTIQ young people
St Martins Youth Arts Centre in Melbourne and Minus18, have joined forces, with support from Creative Victoria, to create a series of ground-breaking, thought-provoking and provocative short films and live performances which put a raw and confronting insight into the world of the LGBTIQ young community – their fears, challenges and passions.
Nadja Kostich, Artistic Director, St Martins, explains that in science escape velocity refers to the energy needed to overcome a powerful force of gravity. “In our project, Escape Velocity is the call to build up a collective momentum as a society and become allies to trans and gender non-conforming young people.”
Boasting three short films, the first series of Escape Velocity, to be launched 8th August 2019 on all social media channels and online, will put a spotlight on three young Australian people facing a particular life challenge, then gathering their courage to speak up, make a choice, or act in a new way, that affirms who they are in the world.
Film outlines and cast:
Launch – features Kian, 25, and is set in a doctor’s office.
A young person asked to identify their gender at a medical clinic produces an inspired and surprising response.
“It’s about the fact that trans people exist in different contexts. We don’t stop being trans when we go to the doctor’s office. We are not just trans in queer spaces.” Kian says.
“For me, the biggest challenge of being non-binary was accepting it. I lived as a trans male for several years, even after realising I was gender fluid. I refused to accept it, as I didn’t have the energy for the fight. I still often don’t have that energy, but I love myself and know that I deserve to be happy. I have a strong and compassionate trans and queer community that holds me up and supports me, and I have a wonderful immediate family who accept me. I’ve recently moved in with my sister, who is also LGBT, and our house is decked out with rainbows, complete with a rainbow door-mat for the front and back doors, courtesy of our mum.
“I think the Escape Velocity project is a part of a growing movement to reflect the diversity of humanity. By revealing the humanity within us all, I hope projects such as this will lead us to a more compassionate and sympathetic society, where being different won’t make us targets.”
Open the Door – features Wolfie, 23 and is set in a public bathroom.
A young person’s stress and anxiety grows as they agonise over whether to use the male or female public toilet, until another option is magically revealed.
“Cis people need to realize that going to public toilets is one of the most daunting experiences of a trans person’s life, even more so if you aren’t “cis-passing”. Whether it be dirty looks, or threats of violence, using the toilet as a trans person is always a test of courage. I hope this film reveals that trans people are people too and that everyone has the right to access a toilet without fear.” Wolfie says.
“In doing this particular short film that I am in; I drew a lot from my lived experience. As a non-binary person, toilets are one of the hardest things to navigate. I’ve had encounters in using both the men’s and women’s toilets in which I have been made to feel unsafe such as being threatened by having security called on me even though it was evident that I was not a man.
“In doing this short film, I hope that cis people will understand the anxieties that trans and gender diverse people face in public toilets and public spaces in general. Cis people need to understand that in making a trans person use the toilet of the gender they are assigned to at birth, that there will still be men in the women’s toilets and women in the men’s toilet. It’s time that all gender toilets existed.”
Dive In – features Alice, 16, and is set at a swimming pool with classmates
A young person courageously reveals to their coach and squad why they no longer want to swim in the boy’s team, blazing the way to new understandings.
“Coming out sometimes needs to be extravagant to actually get your point across. My hope is that we can get to a point where someone can come out and not make a big fuss, and it just be a conversation like any other. But that wouldn’t make for a good video would it.” Alice says.
“The story of the short film I am in is kind of similar to the way I came out, my year level was doing an activity which was split into boys and girls, and I just joined the girl’s side.” Alice adds.
The genesis of Escape Velocity came from a group of trans or gender non-conforming young people in Melbourne, who had been working together since 2018 to create the Escape Velocity films and performances with St Martins and Minus18.
Escape Velocity artworks are made by the young people with St Martins and with artistic consultation from other trans and gender non-conforming artists.
The first Escape Velocity artworks, released in August 2019, are works of fiction — they are not specific stories, but they are common experiences amongst the young people.
“These stories have been created from the experiences of the young people. They spoke of intense anxiety in public spaces and we chose some of the most mentioned places to make the films around – public toilets, doctor, school/pool. We hope to inspire empathy in the public and that this empathy fuels the momentum of becoming an ally: to learn more, speak up, and get behind individuals, organisations and campaigns around Australia that support trans or gender non-conforming communities,” Nadja Kostich, Creative Director, St Martins, says.
“The young cohort have been extraordinary throughout the development of the films: open, generous, intelligent and deeply thoughtful about sharing their experiences and about the message to the general public. In many cases that message has simply been: ‘I exist,’ as many of the young members have felt invisible and excluded from the circle of our greater community. It has been a privilege to be trusted with their stories.”
Adrian Murdoch, Partnerships Coordinator, Minus18, said that as Australia’s largest charity for LGBTIQ youth, Minus18 is a champion for inclusion and fighting discrimination.
“This project represented an opportunity to work with another fantastic organisation, driven by the voices of young trans and gender non-conforming participants. We’ve learnt a lot from working with LGBTIQ young people, who often share their experiences and visions for a more inclusive future candidly and openly.
“These films are an opportunity to understand, to learn and most importantly, celebrate trans and gender non-conforming identities. St Martin’s artistic vision has given a voice to young people through the support of Creative Victoria – and Minus18’s involvement in the development of that vision with the participants has been an opportunity to ensure that it’s an authentic portrayal of lived-experience and ideas, showcasing an important narrative to the larger community.” Adrian says.
The next Escape Velocity artworks are due for release in October 2019.
To discover and view Escape Velocity, visit escapevelocity.net.au