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Ren and Luca chronicles a year in the life of two trans siblings as they navigate puberty, school, and transitioning in the Trump era.
Ren and Luca chronicles a year in the life of two trans siblings as they navigate puberty, school, and transitioning in the Trump era.
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76 backers pledged $9,272 to help bring this project to life.

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$9,272

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Big News on 11/03/17   -    WE HIT OUR GOAL!!! 

 A huge thanks to all who have pledged so far!! 

Please note, the campaign is not over yet and we still need your support!    All funds that are made beyond the goal amount will be used for the editing and completion of this important documentary. 

Love and thanks!!!     Joy, Dan, and the REN AND LUCA Family 

Below is a pic from today of Ren, Mom and Dan.  

Moving and unflinching, Ren and Luca will challenge fundamental ideas about gender identity and expression while entertaining audiences as this tween and teen bicker, struggle, and compete while coming of age.

Overview

Ren and Luca is a documentary that follows two transgender siblings as they navigate puberty, school, family and transitioning leading up to and during the Trump era. A few months ago Ren competed in the Lil Miss Westy Pageant as, perhaps, the first out trans-girl; her older brother, Luca, coached her on posing, make-up, and talent.  He knew his stuff because he competed six years ago when he was living as a girl.  Whether Ren wins or loses, this experience will change the family forever offering a rare window into the lives of two very young gender pioneers.

Ren on stage at the pageant
Ren on stage at the pageant

At a time when basic human rights for transgender and queer folks are under attack by the current administration, stories like Ren and Luca must be made and widely distributed to fight growing ignorance and further discrimination.

  • 55% of transgender youth report being physically attacked 
  • 74% of transgender youth reported being sexually harassed at school
  • 33% of transgender youth have attempted suicide 

As the administration continues to roll back the minimal gains in basic human rights for LGBTQ people around the country, no doubt the above statistics will increase. 

Both directors have decades of experience creating queer-positive media projects. We are just beginning to design our outreach strategy to include film festivals, community events, education, and online interactivity.   The fiscal sponsor for the project is Women Make Movies, which is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization.  

Luca and Ren
Luca and Ren

Project Description

Ren and Luca follows a year in the life of the McCarthy family. The parents, Shelley and Christian, are both schoolteachers and have two children, both of whom are transgender. Luca is 15 years old and was assigned female at birth, and is transitioning to male. Ren is 10, assigned male at birth, and transitioning to female. She is also on the autism spectrum.

 The family lives in a very small house near the beach along with their dog, three cats, a rat, and an aquarium full of fish. An ordinary afternoon finds Ren loudly making up a song on the keyboard while Luca begs her to stop, dog barking incessantly, cats chasing each other, television set blaring, Dad making dinner while being playfully taunted by the kids and Mom trying to calm everyone while folding laundry. It seems chaotic on the outside but there is an inherent warmth and rhythm to their home. 

 This past year has been a rollercoaster ride for the family. Ren and Luca both began actively transitioning. Ren began dressing full time as female and had a puberty blocker surgically implanted. Luca primarily dresses male  but insists on a more gender fluid style, sometimes wearing lots of pink, jewelry and Hello Kitty garb. Just recently, Luca began testosterone treatment.

Horrified at the outcome of the Presidential election, the family scrambled to legally change the kid’s names and official gender on their documents. It was a complicated and expensive process involving a court hearing but they managed to get everything in order before Trump was inaugurated. Now that he and Pence are in office, the family worry about what further hostile actions the new administration will take against the transgender community and how that will impact the safety and well being of their kids.   

 Amidst all of this change for the family, Ren has chosen to compete in a local beauty contest called the Lil Miss Westy Pageant. Local contestants, ranging from toddlers to eighth graders, showcase their makeup and gowns, talent, and community spirit. Coaching her on posing, hairstyles and makeup is her older brother Luca. Luca competed six years ago when he was living as a girl.  

The dynamic between the two siblings as they ready Ren for competition as, perhaps, the first trans-girl to compete will confront traditional gender norms in a wonderfully entertaining and organic way. The preparation, rehearsals and competition itself provide the film a vibrant narrative spine. Whether she wins or loses, comes out on stage or not, this experience will change the family forever offering a intimate window into the lives of two very young gender pioneers.

Status

We have been filming for the past year and now we are ready to complete the edit.   With $6,000, we will finish editing, hire a composer to create an original score, color correct, and do a final audio sweetening and mix.  

Our last Kickstarter campaign was over 5 years ago for a doc entitled Mr. Angel, which premiered at the SxSW Film Festival and later on Netflix and HuluPlus. Through the generosity of this community, the campaign worked! We've set a realistic and much needed goal and hope that you can get us there again!  With your support, the film will be ready for a film festival World Premiere in the spring of 2018.  We appreciate your interest!!

The Team

This is a film By Joy Reed and Dan Hunt.

Director Joy E. Reed brings over a decade of experience in documentary, and has been on the creative team of a number of films that have premiered at Sundance, including BUCK (Audience Award), and HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO. Joy is a principal of Oh, MY! Productions®; their work has been broadcast on PBS, HBO, and other festivals worldwide.

Director Dan Hunt's past documentary work has broadcast on PBS, ABC, Logo, Netflix, HuluPlus and WEtv and screened at festivals all over the world including SxSW, Woodstock, Frameline and Rio International. Hunt was the Executive Producer of the landmark LGBT series on PBS, IN THE LIFE. Hunt is on faculty at Marymount Manhattan College and the programming team at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Composer Peter Rundquist’s work has appeared on PBS and the Sundance Film Festival. His collaborations in music include Taj Mahal, Corey Harris, B.B. King and Philip Glass’ label Point Records.

Cinematographer Rob Featherstone has shot documentaries for the Discovery and History networks. “Forensics you Decide” which aired on MSNBC won a Cine Golden Eagle. “The Artificial Leaf” won 2nd place in the Focus Forward Film Festival. Recently “Requiem for the American Dream” and “Indian Point” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Cinematographer Owen Strock is a native New Yorker and a 10-year veteran of the NYC film world. He was the DP for the NYTimes acclaimed The Lost Arcade, and has shot everywhere from the mines of Tanzania to the mountains of Nepal. He is a graduate of Middlebury College.

Mom with Ren on left and Luca on right before transitioning.  Dad is taking picture.
Mom with Ren on left and Luca on right before transitioning. Dad is taking picture.

 

Rewards!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risks and challenges

We took our first risk the day we began shooting and do not regret it one bit! This family and these two young people are extraordinary and their story needs to be told now.... especially now.

The challenge is always completing the project while not compromising excellence. Between the two of us, we have lots of technical expertise and experience storytelling. We also know our limitations and when to bring in key specialists.

We hope that you will join us in this remarkable project. Thank you.

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Funding period

- (30 days)