Essential Viewing Hot Docs 2014: Songs for Alexis
Ryan is a very talented 18-year-old transgender (having just finished the main stage of his surgeries) male musician who rarely lets his acoustic guitar slip from his side. After meeting his 16-year-old girlfriend Alexis at a summer camp they both attended the year before, the pair is now virtually inseparable and they have fallen madly in love. But when Alexis’ father discovers the existence of their relationship, especially the gender status of Ryan, the pair is thrust headlong into the harsher realities of the adult world. Alexis is soon faced with the daunting task of choosing between her family and the man she loves.
Songs for Alexis is at times joyous, triumphant, heart wrenching and painful, packing its scant 70 minutes with more resonating emotion than most documentaries do in a feature length presentation. This may be the story of a transgender man coming of age and dealing with the ups and downs of first love, but the themes, fights and reactions of the couple’s relationship are truly universal. The film features another love story though, that of mother and son, as Ryan’s mother Fran may be one of the most understanding and supportive mothers ever caught on film, she really is an inspiration.
Paired at Hot Docs with the absolutely adorable and infectious short ‘Pink Helmet Posse’, the story of a trio of 6 year old girls fascinated with princesses, and oh yeah, skateboarding at the X-Games. The unabashedly fuzzy and funny short sets the perfect contrast for the emotional rollercoaster to come. Songs for Alexis is the type of small, largely unsung discovery that makes spending countless hours in the dark at a documentary film festival all worth it.