Cast｜Annie Sprinkle, Beth Stephens, Stafford, Sandy Stone, Susan Stryker, Max Wolf Valerio
Cinematographer｜Robert Falckenberg, Elfi Mikesch
Production Company｜Hyena Films, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), 3Sat
When director Monika Treut set out at the end of the 1990s to make a film about the emerging phenomenon of ‘trans’ (transgender, transsex-uality), it was to San Francisco, the epicentre of the trans scene, that she headed. With her documentary, “Gendernauts” (1999), she created a cinematic tribute to all the fascinating artists she met during her journey through the land of the new genders. Treut portrayed gender-mixers and sexual cyborgs, who changed their bodies with new technologies and biochemistry and thereby questioned the very existence of ‘male’ and ‘female’. The gendernauts travelled through the worlds of gender and sexuality like cosmonauts travelling through space or cybernauts tra-versing the world-wide web. When asked, “Are you a man or a woman?”, the gendernauts would reply, “Yes”.More than two decades later, Treut returns to California to meet again with the protagonists of her ground-breaking and award-winning queer documentary classic: Sandy Stone, Susan Stryker, Stafford and Max Wolf Valerio, the pioneers of the 90s trans movement. Most of them lived in San Francisco, then a haven for outsiders and part of the sexual avant-garde. Today, they are aged between 58 and 84 and are mostly living elsewhere. San Francisco has become the dormitory town of the well-paid employees of the high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. The alter-native movement has moved to the less expensive East Bay, the deserts in the South, the provinces of Northern California or, like Max, to Colo-rado. But the energy of the gendernauts and their supporters, such as the sex activists and performance artists Annie Sprinkle and Beth Ste-phens, is undimmed, their spirit unbroken.How have their lives changed in the intervening years? How do these civil-rights activists deal with the right-wing conservative politics that threaten the hard-won rights of social minorities? “Genderation” looks back on a time that now seems utopian and shows us the creative resis-tance of the gendernauts against the challenging living conditions for trans people.
For more than 35 years, lesbian director, writer and producer Monika Treut has made a huge impact on German and international queer cinema with her sensual and subversive feature films and documentaries. Born on April 6, 1954, in Mönchengladbach, she studied German and Political Science at the University of Marburg. She graduated in 1978 and earned her doctorate degree in philology in 1984. That same year she founded Hyena Films in Ham-burg together with Elfi Mikesch (www.hyena-films.com). She worked as an assistant director for Werner Schroeter at Düsseldorfer Schau-spielhaus. Treut also spent time in America during the 1980s and provided crucial impulses to the emerging New Queer Cinema with her unconventional approach and her progressive perspective on lesbian and gay sexuality. Her film catalogue includes over 20 films, such as “Seduction: The Cruel Woman” (1985), a film that explores sadomasochistic sex prac-tices; “Virgin Machine” (1988), an adventurous sex melodrama; “My Father Is Coming” (1991), a family comedy shot in New York; “Gender-nauts” (1999), a ground-breaking documentary about the trans scene in San Francisco; and “Of Girls and Horses” (2014), a lesbian coming-of-age drama. Her feature films and documenta-ries have received awards in Germany, Italy, Brazil, the UK, the USA and Greece. Retrospec-tives of her work were held in Ankara, Bern, Lyon, New York City, Seoul, Hamburg, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, Cambridge, Bologna, Los Angeles, Toronto, Mexico City, Lisbon, Thessaloniki, Athens, Sao Paolo, Helsinki, Taipei, Warsaw, Prague and Rio de Janeiro. In 2017, Treut was honoured with the Special Teddy Award at the Berlinale. Between her film projects, she teaches at universities in Califor-nia and New York and writes articles for books and journals. Since 2018 she has held the Chair of Media at the University of Hildesheim.