intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed. Unlike most autobiographical
docu helmers, Haworth has a degree in filmmaking, and her
thorough understanding of the medium results in a well-edited
portrait smoothly interweaving talking heads with home movies
while steadily moving forward both chronologically and emotionally.
Humor is another unexpected plus, picked up on by brief animated
segments ("How to Be a Girl," etc.) that provide
just the right amount of leavening.”
Witty, brave, and vulnerable, Haworth gave
us the most affecting and memorable documentary of the year."
- Vancouver Magazine
"Haworth creates an emotional space
that engulfs the viewer in a way that's extremely rare in
any film, whether fiction or non-fiction."
- Kevin Griffin, The Vancouver Sun
"Rarely does a film live up to its
promotional tagline. She's a Boy I Knew guarantees
to be "...the most compelling DIY, gender bending, feel
good film directed by a transsexual you've seen all year!"
And in this case, I can't agree more."
Sarah Caufield, CJSF RADIO
"A personal story of transexuality,
becomes a tribute to family and in the truest sense, unconditional
Bethina Abrahams, SUITE101.com
"Unique among the slew of documentaries
on changing one's gender, this film blends personal interviews
with gorgeous animation, offering a rich and complex portrait
of the effects transitioning has not just on the individual,
but those around her."
Katharine Setzer, image+nation FILM FESTIVAL
"I loved 'She's a Boy I Knew'
- made with loving care, it dares to reveal an inner journey
without restraint. Beautifully executed, profoundly insightful.
I found myself appreciating it as a mother, a friend, a sister
and a filmmaker."
Anne Wheeler, BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE
If you want to see genders, identities and sexualities with an entirely new set of eyes, then She's a Boy I Knew is absolutely mandatory viewing. A breakthrough documentary of the transgender movement, She's a Boy I Knew goes where no film on this topic has dared to go before: the complex politics and emotions of the intricate, delicate web of family, friends, lovers and community. It's an eye-opening, engrossing odyssey through battles with the health care system, the physical challenges of surgeries, and the psychological pain of reclaiming one’s self and one's family. Adroit, sharp, and agile in its hybrid cinematic style, She's a Boy I Knew invites us into not only a life in transition but into activism. It's a family melodrama in the best and most political sense of the genre: it’s insistent that the intense contradictions between public and private, family and self, biological gender and sexual identities propel out into a larger world of connecting with others to move onwards to new lives and renewed depths!
Patricia R. Zimmermann, author, States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies and Reel Families: A Social History of Amateur Film, and coeditor of Mining the Home Movie.
With wit, intelligence, and emotional grace, She's a Boy I Once Knew traces the journey of film-maker Gwen Haworth as she comes out to her family as transgender and transitions from loving husband and only son Steven into Gwen. This is a moving story of self-discovery and individual becoming. But it is also far more than that. Haworth joins autobiographical narrative and home movies from childhood to interviews with friends and family. These creative juxtapositions open the film up beyond an individual story of change. We learn how Steven's transition into Gwen effects profound and sometimes painful transformations for the film-maker's circle of intimate others (Steven's wife, father, mother, two sisters, and best friend), who mourn Steven even as they lovingly welcome Gwen. One of the real strengths of She's a Boy I Once Knew is its ability not to judge any of its interview subjects. Another is its richly layered depiction of the social matrix within which gendered being unfolds, changes, becomes.
Ann Pellegrini, Director, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, New York University
She’s a Boy I Knew (Outcast Films): Gwen Haworth’s autobiographical documentary is one of the most tender, witty, forthright and accomplished films to portray the experiences of a trans lesbian. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, film school grad Haworth offers her life as a complex intertext, Sandy Stone-style. Praxis-savvy, she follows Stone’s imperative to fellow trans people to “take responsibility for all their history” and to “write oneself into the discourse by which one has been written.” The film draws from a deep well of family home movies, photographs, sound recordings, quirky animated clips, personal voiceover and—most effectively—interviews with the family members and friends who supported Gwen through her transition from hetero man to sexy dyke. Never didactic, sensationalistic, or simplistic, Haworth carefully places her self-narrated story of wanting to change her gender identity from the age of 4 (and swallowing this feeling long into adulthood), alongside the expressions of hurt, misunderstanding, anger, insight and pure love that her loved ones expose to the camera. Most touching and emotionally difficult are the segments with Haworth’s ex-wife, Malgosia, who stayed with Gwen for years after the transition yet realized she was no longer sexually attracted to her. We experience Gwen’s utter heartbreak during their divorce. Importantly, the film makes clear the distinctions between sexuality and gender identity. In this case, Gwen remains as hot for women as Steven was. She also realizes she’s not comfortable living as a traditional girly girl. She identifies more with queer feminist subculture and comes into her own as a punk-inspired lesbian who occasionally throws on army boots. Watching this charming film feels like befriending someone you really want to know and being intimately welcomed into her life—her whole life.
Candace Moore CURVE, JULY/AUGUST 2009