In the Turn (BFI Flare)
Directed by: Erica Tremblay (2013)
90 mins ****
In The Turn is a documentary following the story of a young trans girl, Crystal, living in rural Canada. She’s struggling with school and her low self-esteem is of huge concern to her mother. We start by seeing Crystal’s mum send a powerful email to the Vagine Regime, (an international Roller Derby community of ‘queer roller derby folk and allies’), asking for help as her nine year old daughter can no longer play sport: since she transitioned her school will not allow her to play sport on the girls team, and she cannot play on the boys team, as she’s not a boy. From there the story unfolds, opening the pages of the different lives of inspirational women that belong to the Vagine Regime. Some of the women set out on a mission to raise funds to fly Crystal to America to participate in a youth Roller Derby Camp, it’s a life affirming and heart warming story, and reinstills your faith in the world.
A beautiful film, shot across many varying bright and beautiful landscapes of America, whilst following the equally bright and beautiful lives of some of the members of The Vagine Regime. The varying landscapes and geographical distance juxtapose the closeness of the women in The Vagine Regime – it’s a textbook example of the way in which internet technology has become a lifeline for minority groups, offering connection to those that search for it. Each persons story was captured as a bite-sized chapter of their life, stitched together over the course of an hour and a half, they became the patchwork that is the Vagine Regime.
There were so many important moments in this film, it would be impossible to recount them all in this review. A favourite segment of mine though, was in a roller derby store in New York. As well as selling roller derby equipment, it also acts as a base for teenage girls that are training in the sport. The scene captures them hanging out in the store one evening with the store owners. The girls talk openly about their rejection of the way ‘the world’ expects women to be – of women being seen to need to lose weight, to maintain a slimline figure or to be a certain way . Instead they note that they need to be strong and powerful to be good at the sport. It was so hugely refreshing to hear young women speaking about being strong in their bodies, rather than pandering to the expectations set by the media. It’s also a demonstration of the brilliant role modelling by the Vagine Regime and the difference they are making to the lives of young women.
It’s a powerful film, capturing the difficulties faced by 9 year old Crystal, and other women that don’t quite ‘fit in to the mould’ that society has created for them. But perhaps the real joy of the film is in watching the Vagine Regime smash that mould and create a safe space for all queer women and allies to be themselves, or as the Tori Harris Talavera, the founder of the Vagine Regime puts it – a space in which woman can be ‘unapologetically queer.’ Until the world changes, these spaces are vital, and it’s important these stories are heard, In The Turn captures them beautifully, eloquently and irrevocably touches your heart.
For more information and details of future screenings visit: http://www.intheturn.com
(C) Amie Taylor 2015 – @spoonsparkle
Amie is a writer and actor living in London. She writes blogs, articles, plays, short stories and too many Facebook statuses. She is especially keen to explore and write about gender and LGBT stereotypes, sexuality and gender inequality, but can also be found writing about more light-hearted stuff at auntiespudge.wordpress.com