A young transgender girl and her father share a tender embrace in “The Real Thing,” filmmaker Brandon Kelley’s heartwarming short that hit the internet Monday in honor of both Veterans Day and Trans Awareness Week.
The seven-minute film, which screened at the 2017 Outfest in Los Angeles and the 2018 New England Film Festival, follows Allie (Sophie Giannamore), who has transitioned while her soldier father (Michael Torpey) has been on an active tour of duty. Unfortunately for Allie, her classmates and teachers have yet to accept her as her authentic self ― and when she spots her dad standing in her room unexpectedly, she’s worried he’ll react similarly.
Kelley, who has worked behind the scenes at “Bill Nye Saves the World” and “Project Runway,” as well as on the 2016 TV series, “Nightcap,” told HuffPost he wanted to show “an example of what the parental relationship with a trans child, or any child, should be” with his film. He also praised the talent of Giannamore, who identifies as trans in real life and documented her journey in a series of videos on YouTube.
The filmmaker is, of course, conscious of the fact that “The Real Thing” was released at a time when members of the transgender community have seen their rights rolled back under President Donald Trump’s administration. Still, he’s hopeful the film will remind viewers that “we don’t have to wait until 2020 to fix our problems.”
“Every day there is a new story of a local victory, or small-scale progress being made,” he said. “There are multiple large-scale battles being fought in courts, legislatures and communities across the country, and youth and passion are on our side. Together, these efforts create a tidal wave of progressive thought and policy.”
As far as Transgender Awareness Week is concerned, he added, “There are many things for which we can be somber, but we should also look at this week as a chance to showcase ourselves. I want [trans youth] to know that this week exists, in a large part, in order to help them.”