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D'A 2023

Review: My Way Out


- This documentary is full of partying, fun, freedom, tolerance, enjoyment and pride. Enjoy being whatever you want to be under the disco ball of this London club, a refuge for the trans community

Review: My Way Out

After screening at San Sebastian and the D’A Film Festival in Barcelona, My Way Out [+see also:
film profile
, the first feature film for Izaskun Arandia, comes to Spanish cinemas on 31 March. 31 March is also International Trans Day of Visibility, something that this film not only carries as a banner, but also celebrates in style.

With many songs, credits and intertitles that evoke pink neon nights, plenty of optimism and the desire to live life as yourself, this is a non-fiction film that, although it also condemns the discrimination and abuse that the trans community has suffered over the years, is brimming with hope and an eagerness to dance.

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Through talks with several people who meet at the legendary London club that gives the documentary its title, Arandia affectionately portrays, with understanding and respect, the complications of being a transsexual person when the term to define it did not even exist. It was also hard to find shoes and clothes in non-standard sizes decades ago, but these women who managed to survive family and social rejection thanks to their yearning to be free and, above all, happy, are a shining example of bravery.

Although some examples of trans men are missing in its historical journey (perhaps because being a trans man was even more complicated in a former super-heteropatriarchal society), this agile, activist and fun film also shows the fascinating love story between Vicky Lee, the founder of the club, and her partner for decades: a woman who claims to "love people, not their gender".

With priceless archive footage where, as part of My Way Out, they pay tribute to musicals such as Sister Act and television interviews with the brave stars of this story. This documentary avoids sordidness, pamphleteering and drama to highlight the great role of this club as a landmark, where young people who were still in transition could find more mature role models, something that cisgender people have plenty of.

As this film, savoured like a glass of champagne - and causes the same instant high - shows, in that haven of freedom, brightness, tolerance, diversity and disco music there was always a warm welcome for straight, gay, trans and non-binary people. As well as for those who did not want to define themselves or felt they were between sexes, because they did not fit into the social constructs, regardless of race, skin colour, wallet or origin. And today, the older trans women continue to dance on the dance floor with the same power of the past, while outside this libertarian temple they continue to fight for respect, equality and recognition.

My Way Out is produced by Izar Films and AltContent and distributed in Spain by Atera Films.

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(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)

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