Given the current recommendation to stay home and practice social distancing, we at the Chicago International Film Festival are looking at past selections from each year of the Festival that you can stream now from home. Stream our past selections as we look forward to the 56th Chicago International Film Festival this October 14-25, 2020. Find the full 56 Films for 56 Years selections here.
Today’s #56Films entry, Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry which screened at the 35th Festival and earned Hilary Swank her first Oscar, is a blistering, compassionate tribute to a real-life man murdered by a viciously transphobic society and comes with an introduction by film critic Nick Davis.
Directors: Kimberly Peirce
35th Chicago International Film Festival
“We’ve come a long way,” Hilary Swank said at the beginning of her Oscar acceptance speech for her starring role as Brandon Teena in director Kimberly Peirce’s blistering, compassionate, unavoidably horrific tribute to a real-life man murdered by a viciously transphobic society. We’ve come even further by now, and still have a considerable distance to go. As you watch or rewatch, you might notice details or vocabularies that have changed over the last two decades in how we understand trans lives and identities. That said, much of this movie hasn’t aged a bit, and in fact feels as bold and adventurous now as it did in 1999. Look and listen to the ways Boys Don’t Cry depicts Nebraska in realistic terms by day but with heightened style at night, combining elements of a living nightmare and a thrilling, youthful playspace for rebel-without-a-cause escapades. Note how the camera alternates between studying Brandon from the outside but also luring the audience into his visual perspective, as one way of feeling our way into his self-image and desires. Notice which scenes are hardest to fix as objective events or as embellished, hot-blooded fantasy. Lastly, relish the absolutely consummate performances that this first-time filmmaker coaxed not just from the marvelous, intensely committed Swank but from every member of this cast, giving complicated life to the most and the least sympathetic characters. All of these talented artists guaranteed that attention would be paid to this big-screen story for many years to come. – Nick Davis, Film Critic