The short film ÉG / I which is inspired by the experience of Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir of coming out as trans had its premier at Reykjavík International Film Festival – RIFF last Sunday.
The film is 15 minutes long and follows the main character through the procedure of coming out as trans. The film is written and directed Vala Ómarsdóttir and Hallfríður Þóra Tryggvadótttir and GayIceland asked them to tell its readers about the inspiration behind the film and what it is that they want to convey in it.
“I met Ugla five years ago and we hit it off right from the start,” Hallfríður explains. “We started talking regularly and decided that we wanted to make something together that would introduce people to the story of trans people. I talked to Vala and she got goosebumps just hearing Ugla’s story and immediately wanted to be a part of getting it out. That’s how it started.”
Originally Hallfríður and Vala wanted to make the story into a theatre performance but when they got further in the work Vala says that it became obvious to them that using the film medium would work better for the story.
“Little by little people are getting the freedom to be who they are regardless of the old gender definitions of society.”
Vala, Hallfríður and Ugla met regularly for a year, the directors interviewed Ugla about her experience of being the youngest person ever in Iceland to go through the transitional process of gender change and the three became close friends. “We talked endlessly,” Vala explains. “But we also took yoga classes and meditated together. I’m really happy that we had such a long time to build trust and make Ugla confident that she could be open about her story with us.”
Both Hallfríður and Vala stress the point that although the film is based on Ugla’s experience the story is pure fiction. “After getting all the stories from Ugla we could easily have made 20 different films,” Vala says. “But we took our time to figure out what we felt was the essence of these stories and we were in agreement about setting the focus on the battle to be allowed to be oneself. That is something that we are all striving for; the right to be ourselves. We made a new story, but it can not be stressed enough that this is built on Ugla’s experience although we put that experience in different circumstances.”
But had Hallfríður and Vala some knowledge of the issues of trans people before they started making the film?
“Yes, but the process with Ugla has been a wonderful learning process. Little by little people are getting the freedom to be who they are regardless of the old gender definitions of society.”
Do Vala and Hallfríður think that the film will help broaden people’s horizons regarding trans people and open their eyes to their reality?
“Judged by the reactions we have been getting, I would think so,” Hallfríður says. “It is out of our hands now, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that with this film we have made our little contribution to open people’s minds.”
The next screening of Ég is in Bíó Paradís today, Wednesday, 3rd October, at 15.15.
Ég / I is produced by GERVI Productions in association with SVIESTAS and Salka Film. The cast
includes Snæfríður Ingvarsdóttir, María Thelma Smáradóttir, Kristbjörg Kjeld, Elva Ósk Ólafsdóttir and Hlynur Finnbogason. Last Friday, GERVI Productions and Samtökin 78 screened the film for college students and spoke to them about the film as part of Reykjavik International Film Festival