meet the star and director of moving biopic lucy: my transgender life
The documentary won Best Reality Performance at the New Renaissance Film Festival, and will screen in London at Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest on 4 April.
LUCY: My Transgender Life is a new documentary from first-time director Melinte Reitzema about the extraordinary life of Lucy Fizz, a dancer at London party Sink The Pink and club The Box, and her journey as a transgender woman. The film includes moving interviews with Lucy herself, as well as her mum, childhood friends, and Sink The Pink founders Glyn Fussell and Amy Zing, who paint a picture of a brave and effervescent personality, and a journey of self discovery that we can all take courage from.
Having claimed the prize for Best Reality Performance at the New Renaissance Film Festival at a ceremony in Amsterdam this month, LUCY will screen as part of the Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest at Hackney showroom on Tuesday 4 April, and at The Glory on Wednesday 19 April. Ahead of those screenings, i-D caught up with Lucy and Melinte to find out more.
Lucy, when Melinte approached you about making the film, what were your first thoughts?
Lucy: When Melinte first asked me, I kinda just said yes straight away. It wasn't until I had thought about it a bit that I realised how vulnerable it might make me feel and how important it was to do this well. But I trusted Melinte would tell my story with care and sensitivity and once we got going it was quite easy to forget that the camera was there.
Melinte, this is your first film. What were you doing before, and have you always wanted to make films?
Melinte: Before this I was trying to become an actress. I always wanted to make films, I just thought I would act in them, I never imagined I could actually make them myself. The acting wasn't really working out the way I had hoped, and I got depressed. My ex-boyfriend taught himself how to film and edit and being desperate to do something I thought maybe I could teach myself to do the same.
Why did you choose Lucy as your first subject?
Melinte: I came across an online communication agency who were commissioning 10 minute shorts about gender, and offering a budget too. Lucy was the first person that came to my mind. She dances at The Box where I waitressed, and I was always in awe of her. She is so gorgeous and has this infectious energy. My idea was it should just be all about her. I wrote a treatment but it wasn't commissioned. I decided to do it anyway.
Tell us about the experience of making the film - the best bits, and the hardest?
Lucy: The best bit of making the film (sorry I'm going to be super cheesy here) was getting to know Melinte and the friendship that has resulted from working together on the project. The most difficult experience for me was when I received a text from my mum after she had watched the film for the first time. In the message she apologised for not standing by me when I needed her the most and said she felt like she had failed me as a mother and people would see her as a bad parent. I really didn't want that to come across in the film and I assured her that all of the difficulties we had were in the past and had been forgiven.
Melinte: The best part was getting to know Lucy and diving into her story and really learning and understanding what it means to be trans and to fight for your own identity. The hardest part was making the whole film pretty much on my own. I had no idea what I was doing, so there was self doubt and the worry I wasn't good enough to tell Lucy's story. But she trusted me, and so starting the days with coffee and self help books like The Artist's Way, I managed to finish the film.
What do you hope audiences will take from the film?
Lucy: I hope that the film will give people an open and honest trans-story that they can relate to and perhaps inspire people to think a little bit more about who they are and who they want to be.
Melinte: I hope it will give other trans people who are struggling the courage to keep fighting for who they want to be. I hope it will educate people who like me knew nothing about this subject, because people have a fear of things they don't understand and can be prejudiced against it. But as well as educating people I hope it will inspire the audience to always be who you want to be.
How does it feel to have won the Reality Performance Award at the New Renaissance Film Festival?
Lucy: I'm overjoyed to have won the award for 'Best Reality Performance'. Both Melinte and I burst into tears of joy after collecting the prize at the awards ceremony in Amsterdam.
Melinte: Winning the award was just unbelievable. Lucy did a very quick acceptance speech as she was so emotional, and when she came back running up the stairs I saw her lips tremble and she started crying and it made me cry. So we were basically sobbing in our seats. We just went on a mad journey together. Lucy who told her story with such integrity and this being my first film was all just so vulnerable, to then getting that recognition just felt incredible.
Do you have more films in the pipeline, Melinte?
Melinte: I have so many ideas it's difficult to decide what to go for, but I am very interested in mental health. A close friend committed suicide last year and I think about him all the time. Suicide is the biggest killer for man under the age of 45. I think this is something we need to talk about a lot more. I believe we need to open up to each other in general a lot more.
Text Charlotte Gush
Stills via Lucy: My Transgender Life