Coming to theatres today, Friday, September 21:
CALL HER GANDA
Hot Docs, Doc Edge, Frameline, Outfest, Inside Out, Cínemalayà, LA Asian Pacific, DMZ Docs, Sidewalk, New Orleans
The murder of a transgender woman by a US Marine exposes the legacy of imperialism in the Philippines.
While on shore leave, PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, a 19-year-old US Marine, met Jennifer Laude while out on the town in Olongapo City, Philippines, and took her to a hotel room. She was later found brutally murdered, and Pemberton was arrested for the crime, based on the theory that he panicked after learning that she was transgender. Immediately, family, friends, and activists are concerned that Pemberton will escape justice by invoking the Visiting Forces Agreement that exists between the US and the Philippines, allowing a great deal of latitude for American servicemen to avoid local prosecution for crimes committed, prompting a surprising public outcry about the unfairness of the VFA as well as the disregard paid to transgender lives. Raval follows several individuals invested in seeking justice for Laude, including her supportive mother and other family members, their lawyer, and a trans journalist covering the story. Despite the film’s title – Laude was called “Ganda” by her mother, Tagalog for “beauty” – Jennifer remains something of a cypher, never quite fleshed out and only seen in brief video and stills, but the film’s focus on the simmering tension between Philippine sovereignty and US military involvement in its former proves thought-provoking.