Real Boy

DIRECTOR: Shaleece Haas

West Coast Premiere

Expected to attend: Director Shaleece Haas, Editor Andrew Gersh, Subject Bennett Wallace, Subject Joe Stevens, Subject Suzy Reinke, Executive Producer Charlotte Lagarde, Consulting Producer Marc Smolowitz

Bennett Wallace is 19, a musician, and in recovery. When he meets his idol, Joe Stevens of the band Coyote Grace, Bennett’s personal and aspirational lives collide. Joe serves as Virgil to Ben’s Dante while he goes on a journey (both literal and figurative) to forge his identity as a transgender man and an artist. Navigating the difficult terrain of fractured family bonds, Bennett finds his parents and sister reacting to his coming out with varying degrees of dismay—but he maintains a deepening, if at-times tense, relationship with his mother, Suzy, as she struggles to understand his identity. When Bennett and his best friend, Dylan, plan a trip to Florida to undergo top surgery at the same time, what seems a culminating event becomes more of a way station.

Director Shaleece Haas’s ambitious visual style imbues Real Boy with the personal and confessional, enriching the story with home videos from Bennett’s early childhood and beautiful animations that bring his journals to life—as Bennett’s music, woven throughout the film, becomes the soundtrack to his coming-of-age. While the story centers around Bennett’s transition, it ultimately reveals how our closest, most complicated relationships can be a source of hurt as well as redemptive, authentic healing.

— Mordecai Stayton

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D315

Co-presented by:
California Humanities
Independent Television Service (ITVS)
Lyon-Martin Health Services, a program of HealthRIGHT 360
tm4m(trans men for men)

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