Artwork by Trisha Shattuck – pending permission for use
Last week was the AFI DOCS Film Festival in DC. If you couldn’t gather it from the name, it’s a documentary film festival.
Friday night, Alan and I made a beeline for the theatre on E Street so we could screen, “From This Day Forward,” which is described on its website this way:
From This Day Forward is a moving portrayal of an American family coping with one of the most intimate of transformations. When director Sharon Shattuck’s father came out as transgender and changed her name to Trisha, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. Her father’s transition to female was difficult for her straight-identified mother, Marcia, to accept, but her parents stayed together. As the Shattucks reunite to plan Sharon’s wedding, she seeks a deeper understanding of how her parents’ marriage survived the radical changes that threatened to tear them apart.
In the wake of Caitlin née Bruce making headlines, it’s a timely topic, but that’s not what drew us to the screening.
It was on my radar because – some years earlier – my sister told me that one of the students she had become friends with through her job at the University of Michigan was using kickstarter.com to raise funds to make a documentary about her family, focusing on her father’s transgender journey in northern Michigan.
I’m something of a kickstarter and gofundme junkie because I believe there’s not enough art, beauty or understanding in the world, so if I spot an opportunity to help reverse that, I do what I can.
Admittedly, most of my gambles have not paid off – aside from Calligraphuck, which seems to be thriving yet somehow lost my donor gift of profane greeting cards so I still haven’t actually handled the product. (Probably for the best or half my Christmas list might disappear in one year!)
So imagine my joy when I learned that a film I had contributed to actually made it to the big screen! There was no way I was going to miss it – and since Alan is pretty much the best partner ever, he accompanied me without even knowing what we were going to see.
Turns out? Incredible movie. Not only did Sharon Shattuck (the director) do a fantastic job with the images and videography, she also crafted a clever backdrop for the story by using her father’s artwork and her own wedding to unravel the threads of her parents’ marriage and their family dynamic.
Early in the movie she quotes her dad, Trisha, as saying, “Sharon, whenever you get married, I hope you’ll let me wear a dress when I walk you down the aisle…” The rest of the movie then builds to her wedding day, with the suspense of the reveal (will her dad wear a dress?!) flowing like an undercurrent, subtly tugging us forward as we learn about her parents’ marriage.
I won’t ruin the reveal. I will just say this: the film is loaded with gorgeous imagery – both in the form of Michigan landscapes and Trisha’s artwork; even so, the most beautiful part of the film is actually the message – that a marriage unfolds in many unexpected ways, and love actually can conquer all.
Needless to say, I wasn’t the only person wiping at my cheeks when the credits rolled. And I’m probably not the only person now trying to get one of Trisha’s paintings in my house.
Check out the trailer here, and see if it’s coming to your city soon – you’ll be glad you did: