Their Story Matters with Sara Troy and her guest Monika Wilczynska aired February 16t
TRANSGENDER. The Pope said I don’t care what your faith is as long as it is about love and kindness. So if a Transgender person wants to be in faith who are you to dictate NO.
Who I Am is a drama short film based on true events, and is based on from the life of a friend of mine from Sweden, with an original script written by Monika Wilczynska . It is a coming of age tale about Elijah, a young transgender teenager from a very religious background, who has to try to reconcile their identity with their faith and their family’s expectations of them.
It is about believing in ourselves and not compromising our own integrity in order to please our surroundings.
Can an LGBTQ-identifying person benefit from religion whilst staying true to who they are? Why is it important to tackle identity in regards to religion? How restrictive is our perception of spirituality and divinity? Who I Am does not attempt to answer these questions but it aspires to open the dialogue to the public on subjects that have been under-represented or taboo for far too long.
A lot of progress has been made in the past few years regarding LGBTQIA community and rights, but we still have a long way to go. Especially with transgender people, who are, in certain places, even less accepted than the rest of the LGBTQIA community. By giving visibility and voice to a transgender character, we aim to not only bring to life an honest and candid portrayal of their daily struggles but also to help educate people who may have never been directly confronted with this subject matter.
Monika the filmmaker says, “I am interested in the subject of identity and how different human beings identify themselves versus how they are seen by society and portrayed by the media. Religion and spirituality are also an interest of mine because we are wired in such a way that our actions come from our beliefs. Most of our deep-rooted beliefs, as well as many social, economic and political systems are based on religious teachings; whether we ourselves are an atheist, agnostic or a member of a particular religion. Therefore changing, or at least questioning our beliefs can help a positive change in the world happen much faster.”
Paul O’Deawho plays Elijah
“I think having a voice as an artist is really important because we can speak up about issues that are close to our hearts but which are also socially relevant. Historically, creative people have always been pioneers when it came to ‘taboo’ subjects and revolutionary ideas. We are continuously being told that we are separate, that we don’t matter and that we cannot change the circumstances in which we live. But look at Rosa Parks, look at Martin Luther King, look at ‘Tank Man’ in Tiananmen Square. We do matter and the more we realize that the more we can achieve in a quicker amount of time. The first step to that is ending all sort of prejudice, especially one based on an individual’s ethnicity, religious affiliation or sexual orientation.”
Who I Am is aiming to help do just that.
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When writing the script for Who I Am, it was important for me to stay true not only to the essence of the subject but also to the representation of a transgender person on screen. There is a history of misrepresentation of transgender and non-binary characters by cis-gender people and I wanted to steer clear of that. This is the reason why I had not only spent countless hours talking with my friend on whom this story is based but also engaged with the transgender community through social media.
One of the reasons behind our fundraising campaign is our objective to screen this film at as many International Film Festivals as possible, in order to raise awareness about its subject. We aim to submit it to Cannes Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, BFI Flare, San Francisco International LGBTQ Festival, Melbourne Queer Film Festival and Berlinale Film Festival (Teddy Award section) amongst others.
Monika Wilczynska has a theater, literature and philosophy background and is currently in her last year of BA (Hons) Film, TV and Digital Media Production degree at Regent’s University London. As a Scholar, she has benefited from EU-sponsored film development courses all over Europe, including workshops with Academy Award nominees. She works as a freelance screenwriter, producer, and director. She aims to bring to life meaningful tales from under-represented communities. Her work includes campaigns, commercials, music videos and short films. She wrote and directed ‘Who I Am’ as part of her graduation project for her degree.
Monika has been inspired by Mika and once had the awesome experience of being on stage with him, here is a song that unites us all.
In order to make this project a reality, we have started an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds necessary for its making, which can be found here:
SUPPORT THE FILM HERE