Dir. Charles Vuolo and Andre Phillips, USA/Dominican Republic, 2019, 77 min.

The story opens with a name and closes with a new one.

As the transgender protagonist of this drama searches for their sister, their birth name remains as the last remaining thing she gave them. But as time goes on, it fails to identify them.

The film follows a Cuban immigrant as they attempt to track down their sister who went missing in the city’s sprawling sex industry. However, the realization that they are transgender complicates the journey, leaving them having to navigate their own self.

The film handles gender beautifully. It illustrates a gradual but powerful unearthing of truth and identity. The visceral process manages to influence each aspect of their life. The protagonist must face how their gender affects their search, their personal life and their career as a boxer.

This liminal moment in the character’s life displays a real vulnerability that one cannot help but connect to. The film explores the physicality that dysphoria can bring, even through a look in a mirror or a conversation with a stranger. Yet, it also highlights the beauty of finding support and acceptance through community and self-assurance. The film emphasizes the multi-dimensional experience that gender can be. It portrays finding one’s self as a journey of discovery and self-definition.

Lupe reminds audiences of the value of living one’s truth.

Lupe screens in Winston-Salem on Friday at 10 a.m. at A/perture 1 and Sunday at 11 a.m. at Hanesbrands Theatre.

— SE

You may also enjoy these Riverrun 2019 reviews:

Life is Fare: This freeform film follows the story of an Eritrean woman making a film in San Francisco and explores themes of identity, mental health and reality.

This Changes Everything: This star-studded documentary explores how film and television promote narratives that marginalize and render girls because women are denied the opportunity to tell stories as producers, directors and actors.

Find the full list of reviews here.

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