Cinestudio Hosts 22nd Annual Festival of French and Francophone Cinema: Themes of Gender Identity

3 min read

Bailey McKeon ’22

Features Editor

This past week, Cinestudio held the 22nd annual Festival of French and Francophone cinema. While the festival offered an array of unique and profound pieces, perhaps one of the most touching and spectacular films was a documentary titled Petite Fille, or Little Girl.

The showing on Thursday night followed the intimate story of a wonderful seven-year-old transgender girl named Sasha. With a family who recently accepted her identity, Sasha and her mother face the discriminatory town and school while searching and fighting for widespread acceptance of Sasha’s gender identity and an opportunity for Sasha to be herself. The story illuminated the resistance to transgender people in France and the resulting hardships it causes for those identifying as transgender.

Sasha’s story, however, is not native to France alone. Viewing the film in America illuminates the current climate of resistance towards transgender identities, and specifically the obstruction of allowing a child’s transgender identity to be taken seriously, respected, accepted, and trusted—anything less results in crisis, trauma, and heartbreak for the child. Accompanying Sasha through her suffering from across the screen likewise generated a heartbreak in the audience.

The emotional film not only conveyed the importance of acceptance for transgender children but further illuminated the value of life and love. In moments where Sasha was approached with love, she could live as herself; it was in these small acts that Sasha triumphed and felt herself. The film taught us the importance of love and acceptance and the crucial role these virtues play in fostering a fulfilling life for all.

Perhaps one of the most memorable moments from the movie was the expression of Sasha’s mother in which she stated that everyone has a purpose in life, and hers, she believed, was to fight on behalf of her daughter. The faithful bond between Sasha and her mother and the eventual triumph of the two in gaining the school’s acceptance of Sasha’s gender identity displays the power of devotion in generating change in support of our loved ones.

The French film festival offered a variety of other films—nine in total—which presented the thoughtful range and creative craft of French film directors. The festival displayed films produced from 1928 to current releases. A special thank you to all involved in organizing, sponsoring, and supporting the festival and making this year’s April in Paris especially remarkable. We are looking forward to the reveal of next year’s line-up of films.

To anyone struggling with gender identity or the acceptance of any other identities, please know that you are not alone. While media and films like Petite Fille may offer comfort and affirmation in your experience, there are resources available to you as well. Please see the list below for places in which you can seek support:

  1. Women & Gender Resource Action Center
    • 860-297-2408
    • Office located on the 2nd floor of Mather Hall
  2. Queer Resource Center
    • 860-297-2582
    • 114 Crescent Street
  3. Counseling and Wellness Center
    • 860-297-2415
    • 135 Allen Place
  4. The Trevor Project
    • 24-hour hotline for struggling LGBTQ+ members
    • Call 860-488-7386 to speak with a licensed counselor
    • Text “start” to 678678 to text with a licensed counselor
  5. Transgender Care Listings

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