In the Works: THE JONESES

The members of an atypical Mississippi family each seek love despite odds seemingly being stacked against them.

Director and cinematographer Moby Longinotto originally began his project as a short documentary. After it screened at notable fests including Hot Docs and Sheffield, he teamed with producer Aviva Wishnow (BLANK CITY) to expand it to feature-length. Joining the pair as associate producer is Jordan Mattos, who served in the same role for the SXSW and Cinema Eye Honor award-winning BILLY THE KID. The film follows the three-member Jones family, who live together in a Mississippi trailer park: Matriarch Jheri Rae, elder son Brad, and junior son Trevor. Complicating things a bit, 70-year-old Jheri Rae started life as the male Jerry, and is the boys’ biological father; 40-year-old Brad suffered brain damage at birth and has been dependent on his parents his whole life; and 34-year old Trevor is a virgin, racked with insecurity. Their small town might not know what to make of them, but they’re not letting that stop their search for partners who can accept them as they are.

With just over a week remaining, the filmmakers’ Kickstarter campaign is just shy of halfway to its goal of $27,500, so there’s still time to consider contributing. To keep updated on the project, check out its Facebook page.

Longinotto and Wishnow’s film has some immediately appealing and unusual hooks – it’s not every doc that focuses on a dating senior transgender woman or her socially or mentally challenged offspring. Even so, at its core, the film is about absolutely universal themes – love, relationships, and family. The teaser trailer, and the Kickstarter page, say as much, and leave no doubt that, far from presenting the Jones family as objects of spectacle, they will be treated with respect. Additionally, I’m curious about the role regional specificity and class will play in the doc – it’s one thing to explore transgender stories in major urban centers, and quite another to look at how rural and Southern communities might approach these issues. The same thing could be said for Jheri Rae’s sons and the qualities that mark them as different. The doc looks promising, and I look forward to seeing the feature-length version come together.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, In the Works

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