Mar 3, 2011

story thinking behind the WILDNESS title part 2

Thanks for sharing this news.

I first heard about the production of Damelo Todo a couple months ago and thought it was a necessary work and vehicle to allow the voices of these women and community to be heard outside of the streets. It does seem like a lot of the footage I've seen from certain videos is heavy on "Wildness" the party/event/community of yesteryear, and so changing the working title from Damelo Todo to Wildness is probably a smart one.

Also, it can be a rather touchy issue to do so in terms of promoting a work that on the surface seems to be about the party/event/community that was initially supposed to be based on the legend and history of the Silver Platter. Depending on how the work is presented I can see how folks could perceive it as a form of artistic gentrification. 
i wanted to re-post this comment because i think it's a super helpful jumping off point for talking more about the movie's title change... (and if you missed it, here is part 1)

to start, i think we have to agree that SILVER PLATTER and WILDNESS = 2 CAMPS. silver platter = immigrant transgender women and WILDNESS = young hip artists. obviously there are problems with these blanket categorizations, but let's just say there is a general perception that bears a fair amount of truth. and if you take into account the bar's proximity to downtown and echo park (2 major poles of gentrification in LA) you get a pretty obvious equation- although i'm not sure exactly how to say it? one group has more power over the other? one group threatens the other? it also brings up the issue of storytelling. there are NOT a lot of stories about immigrant transgender women out there in the mainstream - it's an underrepresented subject. and there is definitely a need to get those stories out and spread consciousness. particularly in the film industry (or any culture industry), there is blatant discrimination. so there are entire circuits of festivals set up to support films about queers and people of color, so that they can find their audiences. without these efforts, so many stories would never be heard. (FOR EXAMPLE THERE IS A RAAAAAD ONE THIS SATURDAY IN LA CALLED FUSION GO THERRRRRE)

this was my general worldview i when i started making the film: i wanted to give voice to these amazing women, who needed to be heard and appreciated in a major way. being in the 'artist camp' i saw my role as 'having' a lot of power, and therefore responsibility to my subjects. that was like square one. i thought: THEY need support, and that subject-matter is way more important than me, or anything i got going on.

and then over the course of making the movie, i had a shift of consciousness, that felt real.... real. trying to find words for it now.

to me the old title DAMELO TODO represents an older consciousness, which has a more traditional filmmaking politics behind it ('giving voice to underrepresented subjects'), and the new title WILDNESS represents a newer consciousness that is equally as politicized but in a different way.

also to break it down further, the two titles obviously privilege different languages; spanish vs english. they are also entirely different FRAMES for the subject matter. the phrase DAMELO TODO ("give me everything") is a pretty open concept that could be applied to a lot of themes relating to the bar, whereas the word WILDNESS, while it may be a word in itself, it's also the NAME of the club that gets referenced in the movie - so that's kind of a major over-determiner. like the title WILDNESS implies the film is 'about' the club Wildness. yes.

and initially, or still on some level, that feels hard for me as the filmmaker, because it's uncomfortable. the idea that i would work in a space that has a MAJORLY EPICALLY INSPIRING history and an UNFUCKINGBELIEVEABLY POWERFUL COMMUNITY- and not only not just focus on them, but instead kinda focus on myself and my friends? yea that feels craaazy. are bombs going off in your brains?? they are in mine.

but actually this shift in consciousness, which came about slowly, painfully, and with a lot of failure, was about discovering that all my thinking about power, privilege, and representational responsibility was severely limiting the possibility of understanding something fundamental that i feel when i'm at silver platter. which is that i am a part of this community, i'm not more powerful than anyone else, i'm not 'better off,' and i don't pity anyone (which i think is implied by the word 'privilege'). it true that i'm not latina, and therefore waay on the outer layers of cultural distinction within that community space. i also come from a different class background, so i can't relate daily to everyone's life experience, but i can listen, understand, and act in solidarity. i can get angry, just like everyone else. we all get angry, and we all do what we need to survive. there is no hierarchy of being or meaning. i don't mean to get overly philosophical about it, but i do think that words and ideas limit (or create) the possibilities of how we SEE each other and treat each other.

i've always loved nicol's response to the LA Weekly article, which classified us as "art damaged hipsters" and "third world gender illusionists" (ouch). she said: "what [the journalist] saw is not what the Silver Platter is. it is only what his mind dictated him afterward, to write." i think she brilliantly hits on the basic problem of representation. places are places, people are people, and representations will always reveal something about what the maker wants to see.

so when i started making the movie, i wanted to see this amazing solid community of transwomen, and make a film about their struggles. what i didn't want to see was myself, and the role that my friends and our party was playing in shaping all of my fantasies about what i thought the silver platter was. at a certain point i had to come to terms with the fact that, as well intentioned as my fantasies were, in the spirit of radical transness, and celebratory of queer community of color, they were still fantasies. and i think there is nothing wrong with that, if you can own it. so this consciousness shift has been about saying THIS is about the silver platter, from the perspective of who i am and what i wanted, as an filmmaker, a community member, a person of a different ethnicity and class, as a friend, as someone who cared, as someone who fucked up - a person. one of many people. it's like nicol says: it's like a chess game, we are all at play here. and everything we do (including wildness, including making this movie) has an effect on the bar's incredible long-standing history. no one is more important, no one has the power to 'change' it or end it.

THAT SAID, there are all these external great forces of race class & gentrification at play - so basically i'm trying to say: i hope the film can be a vehicle for the women's voices, and 'about' the legendary history, and INCLUDE (and provoke) explicit reference to how the story is being told and who is telling it.

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