As gay men and women, we’ve all had the experience of living a double life at one time or another. Playing at straight at home with the family, in sports clubs, at church, and letting our real identity out of the box when we make contact with others like ourselves. But what if your identity is less easy to hide?
This month at Rialto Cinemas Newmarket, Number 8 Films presents the modern French masterpiece Tomboy, the story of 10-year-old girl Laure who takes the opportunity of changing her identity to Mikael when her family moves to a new town.
The film has won multiple awards since its festival release in April last year, including the prestigious Teddy Award (for best GLBT-themed film) at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Director Celine Sciamma says: “I built the film around a very strong and simple argument, the story of a lie, an undercover character, so that it would produce a powerful story with suspense and empathy. It allowed me to take the time to relate a vivid chronicle about childhood, with documentary aspects, and unpredictable accidents.”
For those who are squeamish about portraying such “adult” issues through the eyes of a child, Sciamma is unapologetic. Age should not be an issue when asking deep and mature questions about the nature of gender and identity, she says.
“Childhood is often referred to as the age of innocence. But I think it’s a time of life full of sensuality and ambiguous emotions. I wanted to portray that.”
For a film about the complex representations of childhood identity and desire, Tomboy remains non-judgmental towards Laure and the people in her life. Her loving and accepting parents at first offer her a safe place to explore her developing feelings – though as they begin to suspect their daughter’s actions, that patience is tested.
The film is a delicate balance between the sincere exploration of childhood and the sometimes harsh transition into maturity.
Tomboy screens at Rialto Cinemas Newmarket on Thursday March 15, at the later time of 8:05pm. The screening is part of a monthly gay film night series in Auckland presented by Number 8 Films in association with Get It On! Tickets available online at www.number8films.com.