Shout Outs & Support from Friends!
Thanks Cara Delevingne
On a snowy winter day in New York City, as I sat in my favorite Thai restaurant eating dinner with my dear friend and filmmaker Eric, along with his wife, I announced awkwardly “Eric, I have to tell you something. It’s intense. I don’t want to involve anyone else, just you. It’s very personal, I’ve told no one in the business, not even my agent. I am going to have SRS (sexual reassignment surgery) in two weeks!”
At that point in time I didn’t have a strong desire to share what was about to happen with anyone but a few very close friends, certainly not a camera! Eric’s words changed my view forever.
“This is a powerful part of an immensely courageous journey, we need to film this!” Eric said, his eyes beaming with excitement. “Your story is so unique. It has the potential to reach so many and to help millions of young people around the world. You need to do this! You know how many trans people (and people in general) are out there hiding, forced to live as someone they are not. You could give them hope by going public about this.”
Eric had filmed me several times before for fashion gigs and other small pieces. If I was going to allow any camera to follow me through the most challenging period of my life, it was his. That is how this documentary was born, and since then it has become one my life’s missions. I ask you, fellow Kickstarters, to join and help me complete the film. I hope that by sharing my humanity, pain, tears, laughter, joy, and biggest struggles on film, it will shed light on what it means to live as a transgender individual. I have always believed that differences between people should not equal divisions and I simply want to create something that could help build a bridge between my community and the rest of the world.
Andrej(a) is a feature-length documentary tracing androgynous trans supermodel Andreja Pejic’s journey from the Serbian refugee camps of her childhood to the glamorous life of international fame and fashion she now leads. Her rise to popularity past is remarkable: her ability to successfully navigate two such disparate worlds while silently struggling with gender dysphoria is even more so. In the summer of 2014, Andreja came out as a trans woman, and her life will never be the same. She’s crossed into unprecedented territory, and as she learns to navigate her post-op life and career, we’ll be along for the ride.
Since she was a young child being raised by a single mother in a refugee camp in the Balkans, Andreja has had to hide her deepest wish, “to live life as a woman”. The justifications for that decision during her youth were many - war, a broken family, poverty - but as her fame skyrocketed, the pressures to remain a boy grew right along with it. New York Magazine’s infamous cover “The Prettiest Boy In The World” sealed the deal. If she wanted to remain a success, she had to remain a boy. Her agents said it. The press said it. The world expected it. Most importantly, her family relied on it.
Now, Andreja has reached a major turning point. For the majority of her life, she has had to live in between the two genders. However her unique career, looks, and position between two fashion worlds could not mask her lifelong struggle with gender dysphoria. Behind closed doors, Andreja could no longer bear to pose, walk, or live as the person people expected her to be – an androgynous boy.
When taken in social context, Andreja’s early decisions to hide are not surprising. In today’s world, the transgender community remains one of the most disadvantaged social minorities globally. Unemployment rates for trans men and women stand at twice the national average, as do poverty rates. Attempted suicide rates are one of the highest out of any other community. Furthermore, there is a deep social distrust that can make the simplest of tasks, even just going to the grocery store or seeing a movie, extremely challenging. Publicly claiming one’s truth as a transgender individual often means the loss of family, friends, careers, relationships, and, in far to many cases, lives. It is no wonder that being trans is rarely, if ever, associated with success.
In the world of fashion, prospects are little better. The industry is no stranger to discrimination. Like everywhere else, transgender individuals are rarely treated with respect. Trans models lack the same opportunities as their cisgendered peers. The situation can be compared to the experience of African-American models, two decades ago.
Through Andreja’s life story, Andrej(a) will explore gender politics in-depth around the globe, and the beauty industry and its attitude towards diversity, will be a focal point. From a refugee camp in the Balkans to the world’s biggest runways, from boyhood to androgyny to womanhood, from hiding to the highest level of self-acceptance this documentary captures an individual whose biggest dream is to live an authentic, happy and normal life. To be accepted and respected as the person she has always known herself to be. It is a public struggle by a brave person for the most basic of human needs.
We have been shooting for the past two years and have captured some of the biggest milestones in Andreja’s life, including her last photo shoots as an androgynous boy, the experience around the surgery that made her feel complete, her coming out to the world as a “transgender woman,” and emotional encounters with her mother. Our goal now is to capture “life after transition.”
How will Andreja’s personal decisions affect her career and public image?
How will the industry react to her newly disclosed truth?
Will her personal relationships be compromised by this revelation?
Questions like these for the most part remain unanswered, and to have a shot at answering them, it is crucial that we continue filming for another six months. To finish this project we need your help! We have turned down offers from large global networks to maintain creative control and taken the road of independent filmmaking. We felt that this was a story of immense social importance that needed to be approached in an educated, objective and truthful way, without layers of approval or requests for product placement. We wish to grow what started out as a “love project” between Eric and Andreja to a film with the potential to offer courage to millions that are not living their true identities. Together with your help, we can make this film come to life.
You might be asking why our goal is $200,000. We want the best film possible for the lowest dollar spend. The average budget for a festival bound documentary hovers around $450,000. With your help and funding we can cover the cost of many different aspects of the film; the licensing of photographs, music, travel for the crew to follow Andreja around the world as she works and visits her homelands, post production, production personnel, legal fees, graphics, insurance, and gear.
As with all great projects, this is a journey starting off with subject and story that will hopefully inspire people across the globe, and the whole team thanks you in advance for pledging your support to make this documentary a reality.
Media Announcements of Andrej(a)
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge is distribution. We do not have a distributor attached yet. Eric, Andreja, and the rest of the team are confident that we will inspire interest in the right people to partner with us. In order to secure distribution, we plan on bringing the film to as many major international film festivals as possible. There, we will meet with distributors and hopefully find the perfect group for this project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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