Felix Endara is a transgender filmmaker whose work include personal documentaries that tell stories of transformation and resilience. On May 16 he joins Ela Troyano in leading a workshop to help artists traditionally underserved in the art world to build strategies of self-advocacy and empowerment. We asked Felix some questions to get more clarity around what that means for him.
What issues will you address?
For starters, I’d love to get past how institutions—and in our case, the art world—use “diversity” and “inclusion” to signal that they are engaged in fairness. Not only is it not enough, but it really doesn’t get to the issue at matter, which is power. I’m more interested in tackling root causes of injustice and sharing ways to achieve equity.
What is your own experience facing these issues?
Through my creative practice, I address how I walk this planet as a Brown, immigrant, queer, and trans person. Sometimes it comes out explicitly through the content of my work, but, at all times, it is a lens I use to view the world around me.
I primarily identify as a filmmaker. Recently, I’ve been observing how trans visibility plays out in film; and noticing that although we are hot topics on screen, we are less desirable as the agents of the production of those depictions. In broad strokes, it has meant that most of the funding and resources are allocated to cisgender (queer and straight) filmmakers to make media about trans people. I won’t name names here (I’m a Scorpio so you know I keep the receipts) because it’s not just about the individual directors who benefit from making careers with films about us, then move on to their next project. And the few trans filmmakers who are getting the grants, residencies, writing and directing gigs, tend to be white (and thin, able-bodied, etc.). To make matters worse, some of these white trans filmmakers are receiving support to make work about POC trans folks! Obviously this is not isolated to the film industry; it is a manifestation of our society at large.
Steps toward a more inclusive art world
A key takeaway is that addressing systemic injustices does not have a one-size-fits-all strategy. My hope is that the workshop serves as an exploratory space where participants feel seen and heard, get support from new allies and collaborators, and draw inspiration for creative tactics to tackle the barriers that are holding them back from thriving as artists.
Sign up for Ela Troyano and Felix Endara’s workshop Strategies for Self-Advocacy, May 16, 2018.
Image above: film still from Wilderness (2012), directed by CC Awardee Wu Tsang, produced by Felix Endara.