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BERLINALE 2022 Panorama

Review: Into My Name


- BERLINALE 2022: Executively produced by Elliot Page, Nicolò Bassetti’s documentary tells the open-hearted story of four trans youngsters and their extraordinary normality

Review: Into My Name

Nic, Leo, Andrea and Raffi are four friends aged between 20 and 30 years old, hailing from various parts of Italy who are each at different stages of the female to male transition process. It’s estimated that transexual people represent 1% of the world’s population, which equates to roughly 80 million people, and director Nicolò Bassetti sought to lend four such individuals a voice in his invaluable documentary Into My Name [+see also:
interview: Nicolò Bassetti
film profile
, which was presented within the 72nd Berlinale’s Panorama section. The film compares four different yet similar experiences which stimulate important debate and help the wider public to better understand gender dysphoria.

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Gender transition, described here as “one of the most subversive human acts there is”, is broached by Bassetti in what might be described as a coming-of-age-tale form and is explained by those who have had (or are having) direct experience in the area, and who look back on their childhood and teenage memories. Himself the father of a trans boy, the director (whom you’ll remember as the author of the book behind Sacro GRA, a film which bagged itself the Golden Lion in Venice) tiptoes into the day to day lives of these youngsters and charts their activities, their thoughts and their passions. One of them, Leo, acts as a guide: he’s putting a podcast together about gender transition and the memories transgender people have of their childhoods. “I don’t want you to tell me how you realised you were trans, I want to hear about the house you grew up in and the school you went to…” he explains. And it’s from the traces they leave on his tape recorder that we slowly get to know the film’s other protagonists.

Raffaele repairs bicycles, he’s a swing dancer and he has a long-distance boyfriend; Andrea is inseparable from his old, red Olivetti typewriter which he uses to write stories with trans themes; Nicolò is the oldest (33 years old), he’s in a civil partnership with Chiara, and he’s the last in the film to make the transition; he’s the one whose change viewers witness first hand, unfolding, as it does, over a two-year period. Bassetti remains invisible in the film; he lets the boys chat amongst themselves, he follows their meet-ups, their nights out at clubs, their videocalls and, most importantly, the illuminating conversations – since they offer up interesting observations and key insights – each of them has with those closest to them, whether friends or life partners.

The film covers hormonal therapy, name changes by deed poll, legal processes, surgical interventions, diagnoses and decisions, alongside childhood memories, tales of their first crushes and amateur footage of earlier times in their lives, when Nic, Leo, Andrea and Raffi felt like they didn’t fit in and when they still struggled to look at themselves in the mirror. Then there are the observations the film makes on identity, masculinity, sexual orientation and other people’s cutting looks. It’s an open-hearted, at times ironic but never morbid tale about the long and turbulent process of making peace with oneself, in all its extraordinary normality, which the director recounts with respect and humanity.

Into My Name is produced by Nuovi Paesaggi Urbani and Art of Panic with the support of the Emilia Romagna Region. The film is executively produced by Elliot Page (formerly Ellen Page, the star of Juno and Inception) while international sales are entrusted to Cinephil.

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(Translated from Italian)

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