Edinburgh Cinema

Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.

Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain

Miss-Maria-Skirting-the-Mountai_20180701-105119_1

Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain (Edinburgh Film Fesitval)

As a snapshot of what it is to be a transgender female in a rural, religious setting, without medical aid or sympathy, I'd recommend this documentary. Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain (2017), follows forty-something Maria in the foothills and pastures of Andean Colombia. The scenery is dramatic, the personal fortunes of the protagonist sometimes harrowing: this is trans as your parents might have warned you what you'd become, in an existence on the margins without friendship or prospects. At one point we see children shout mockingly at Maria as she enters her family's cemetery. Elsewhere, the four people chosen to talk about Maria all refer to her with male pronouns, along with a surplus of pity and occasional mirth.

The thread that garnered most anger on my part involved her closest acquaintance – described by Maria as a friend and surrogate mother, but who talks in frequently disparaging terms about Maria. This figure 'reveals' how Maria's transgender nature is the lingering evidence of demonic possession. Maria used to have demonic fits, we are told, to the degree that her grandmother withdrew her from school permanently. 'People say she was born with horns and a tail,' giggles one of the speakers. The 'friend' confides to us how a priest carried out an exorcism on Maria, removing the fits. Yet later, Maria is discovered unconscious in a field, and medical inquiries reveal she suffers from epilepsy.

Religion is the double-edged sword, or poisoned chalice, of Maria's story. Living alone and subsisting on the cash she earns for her labouring duties in the fields, she transcends the daily work and loneliness through the Church, and her identification with Maria, mother of Christ. She prays at the religious icons, and talks of how the abuse in the street doesn't hurt her because she is a creature of God. Simultaneously, a particular form of superstitious Catholicism inspires her community to dehumanize and ridicule her. Adding to this dehumanization is arguably the darkest, most tragic part of the portrayal, of how Maria is probably a child born of incest and rape. Responding to the subject, Maria breaks down, asking why people would raise this with her, what value does this personal history bring? And she's right, of course: it seems she's a figure that everyone's trying to understand through narratives of freakery, of something gone wrong. The one silver lining is her undoubted resilience; she continues in her labours, among nature, unbroken by the hate. 

I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

April 28, 2019

Gina's Moving Castle

Saturday afternoon 27.04.19 Enough with marking papers. Enough about conferences. Outside is a blue sky. There's a book shop nearby, my temple, its owners are trying to remove stickers of transphobic messages pasted on their door. Yesterday I met a guy who'd been set upon by a group of 17-year-olds. He still had the scars, and the trauma. They saw ...
Girl
April 14, 2019

Girl

April 14, 2019

Girl

It's a film I watched weeks ago, uncertain that I wanted to review it, the gruesome, horrific ending overshadowing anything positive I was able to take from it. Girl (2019), a Belgian production directed by Lukas Dhont is apparently inspired by the life of contemporary dancer Nora Monsecour . It's a film I had hopes for, really wanted to like, and ...
March 09, 2019

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

in Books

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi The author, Akwaeke Emezi, calls herself trans but also Ogbanje, a spirit depicted in Igbo culture as inhabiting a newborn baby soon to die, though possibly allowing it to live. These are dark conceptions already, embracing fatality and negotiating both intrusion and malevolence, and they contribute as themes to Emezi's ...
March 02, 2019

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

in Books

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein This may be one of the most important books on the 21 st century state of the world, an analysis of the global socio-economics that makes sense of the chaos of post-9/11 Iraq, of the collapse of democracies of Latin America since the 1960s and 70s, and the democratic false dawns of Russia and South Africa since the...
February 17, 2019

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel A week has gone since I watched Alita: Battle Angel . It's a film that left me feeling similar emotions to the cyborg-driven techno-fireworks in Ghost in the Shell (2018), the emotion of 'almost.' Visually, there's a lavish sci-fi splendour to the film, bearing the wonders you desire in a mixture of escapist sci-fi and fantasy: ...
February 03, 2019

A Brexit Feminism That Fears And Excludes

This article follows a number of events that shook me this week. First of all, the filmed harassment by two Trans-Exclusionary-Radical-Feminists (TERFs) of trans woman Sarah McBride at McBride's workplace. I watched it online and thought: that could be me, caught out, disoriented. How do you respond to the equivalent of door-stepping, as out of the...
Vice
January 26, 2019

Vice

January 26, 2019

Vice

Vice A lukewarm reaction from critic Mark Kermode and a condemnation from political writer Simon Jenkins are a strange way to start this review of the Dick Cheney biopic Vice , given that I really enjoyed it. Jenkins's is peculiar, believing it reduced the U.S. invasion of Iraq to the work of a few shady men in the U.S. administration. But wasn't i...
January 21, 2019

The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven I entered a dark, candle-lit auditorium, finding a dining table stretching the length of the floor, draped in a pristine white tablecloth, with candles and cutlery. Audience members trickled in, free to sit in the auditorium or at the table as guests of a transgender Jesus. Queer, and just a bit contro...
January 20, 2019

Queer Two-Spirit Poetry: Fabian Romero

in Books

I can't remember when I ordered Fabian Romero's chapbook*, sometime in September or October 2018. The investment made, the months went by, enthusiasm slow-cooking into defeat, guessing it had got lost in the mail. Then last week I found a soft white envelope in the post. Fabian Romero's chapbook, Mountains of a Different Kind , waiting for me. I re...