UVic filmmaker brings trans issues to the Victoria Film Festival

Fine Arts

- John Threlfall

After 25 years of queer activism, writing professor and filmmaker Maureen Bradley is still changing the world—she’s just having more fun doing it now, thanks to her debut feature film, Two 4 One. Billed as the first transgendered romantic comedy, Two 4 One offers a bittersweet look at a couple in an unimaginable predicament: after an ill-advised one-night stand, Miriam and Adam both wind up pregnant.

But while the set-up may seem farcical, writer-director Bradley has more than laughs in mind. “If my radical 25-year-old self saw this movie, I would definitely have thought I was selling out,” she says, noting her first film debuted at the Montreal Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in 1991. “But it was a very different world then; a lot has changed in the past 25 years—queer films are seen at cineplexes now. I’ve learned that people are more receptive when they’re laughing than when they’re being yelled at. I’ve seen the subversive power of humour and, as a director, I’ve learned the importance of humour—I need to laugh more.”

After enthusiastic screenings at four other Canadian film festivals (Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Whitehorse), Two 4 One will have its local debut at the Victoria Film Festival (VFF) on Feb. 14 and 15—a prospect Bradley finds especially sweet, considering the film was both locally produced and locally filmed.

“That was critically important,” she explains. “When I moved here 10 years ago, we had a really strong documentary community but not much narrative. I wanted to build that here—I didn’t want to just give in and shoot in Vancouver—and I wanted the creative community to know we could do that here too.” Proving her commitment to community engagement, Bradley used as much local talent as possible during the filming of the $150,000 feature on her study leave last year, including producer Daniel Hogg—digital media technician for the Faculty of Fine Arts—as well as some of her own filmmaking students and alumni as crew.

“There are a lot of amazing filmmakers locally now, and many are coming out of the writing department,” she says, noting the likes of alumni Connor Gaston, Stacey Ashworth, Amanda Verhagen, Jason Bourque and Scott Amos. “It’s engaged learning at its finest; my students learn so much from being on set in my classes. Plus, they’re good writers. The department creates great poets, great fiction writers, great creative nonfiction and now we’re getting great screenwriters.” (Indeed, recent MFA Connor Gaston just wrapped his own locally lensed debut feature, The Devout, and his short film Godhead will be seen at the VFF this year, as will the short Gord’s Brother, created by writing alumni Jeremy Lutter, Ben Rollo and Daniel Hogg, and the feature documentary Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood, co-directed by theatre alumni and instructor Leslie D. Bland.)

Unbeknownst to her when she started working on the script two years ago, Bradley also now finds herself part of the current transgender zeitgeist—as evidenced by the likes of Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black, 2014 Eurovision contest winner Conchita Wurs, Chas Bono’s appearance on Dancing with the Stars, the trans assassin TV series Hit & Miss, Jared Leto’s Oscar win for his trans character in The Dallas Buyer’s Club and UVic’s own groundbreaking Transgender Archives. “I’m blown away at the speed with which the mainstream discussion of transgender is happening,” she says. “Obama even said the word in his recent State of the Union address! There’s a post-internet velocity that has led to widespread discussion of transgender issues that other civil rights movements in the west never had access to.”

Noting that “it’s pretty mainstream to be queer in the western world now,” Bradley is pleased that audiences are so accepting of Two 4 One. “I thought the content might be too much for people, to really get the idea that a person who looks like a man could still have a uterus,” she chuckles. “I was completely surprised by the fact that a lot of straight men are really liking it.”

Two 4 One screens Feb. 14 & 15 at the Victoria Film Festival, where Maureen Bradley & Daniel Hogg will hold a post-show Q&A. It will also play at Cinecenta on March 25 & 26, with Bradley & Hogg present. victoriafilmfestival.com


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Keywords: writing, film, gender

People: Maureen Bradley

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