After discovering case files from a 1950s gender clinic, a cast of trans actors turn a talk show inside out to confront the legacy of a young trans woman forced to choose between honesty and access. Agnes, the pioneering, pseudonymized, transgender woman who participated in Harold Garfinkel’s gender health research at UCLA in the 1960s, has long stood as a figurehead of trans history.
In this rigorous cinematic exercise that blends fiction and nonfiction, director Chase Joynt explores where and how her platform has become a pigeonhole. Framing Agnes endeavors to widen the frame through which trans history is viewed — one that has remained too narrow to capture the multiplicity of experiences eclipsed by Agnes’.
Through a collaborative practice of reimagination, an impressive lineup of trans stars take on vividly rendered, impeccably vintage reenactments, bringing to life groundbreaking artifacts of trans healthcare.
Joynt’s signature form-rupturing style radically reenvisions the imposition of the frame on the cultural memory of transness through his brilliantly crafted, communally-driven excavation. This reclamation tears away with remarkable precision the myth of isolation as the mode of existence of transgender history-makers, breathing new life into a lineage of collaborators and conspirators who have been forgotten for far too long.