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“[A] delightful, hybrid work full of metamorphoses and gender identity crash-tests” – Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa, ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY is also an incisive contemporization of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel — which follows a British aristocrat as he changes sex and meets literary legends across the centuries. Philosopher and trans activist Paul B. Preciado asks, “Who are the contemporary Orlandos?”  A diverse cast of over two dozen trans and non-binary people exuberantly claim their Orlando-ness, (re)interpreting scenes from the novel and reflecting on their own identities. Far from an academic exercise, ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY playfully links Woolf’s prescience to the experiences of trans people today. Winner of four prizes at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival, ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY played at this fall’s Telluride, Toronto, and New York Film Festivals — the only non-fiction film to be selected for all three.

Presented with support from the R.G. Rifkind Foundation Endowment for Queer Cinema, the Ada Katz Fund for Literature in Film, and the Richard Brick, Geri Ashur, and Sara Bershtel Fund for Social Justice Documentaries

2023     103 MIN.     FRANCE     JANUS / SIDESHOW


“Few movies this year have lived in my head as long and as happily…a sharp, witty, low-budget experimental work of great political and personal conviction…a pointed, spirited, up-to-the-minute exploration of sex, gender and sexual difference through the character of Orlando, who serves as Preciado’s mirror and avatar…This is, on the one hand, a movie made by a philosopher who studied with Michel Foucault. At the same time, Preciado’s lightness of touch and intellectual nimbleness buoys the movie, lifting both it and you…Preciado’s superpower in this warm, generous movie is that while he speaks brilliantly to the cages of identity, he sees — and shares — a way out of them…He insists on pleasure, speaks to happiness, invites laughter and opens worlds. Here, joy reigns supreme, and it is exhilarating.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“The first trans masterpiece.”
– B. Ruby Rich, Film Quarterly

“Unfolds the complexity and diversity of trans experiences without ever universalizing—and while having fun.”
– Erika Balsom, Film Comment

“Bracingly intellectual … [Preciado’s] often playful approach to the material means there’s rarely a dull moment in a narrative which presents to us a series of different Orlandos, each articulating their own story alongside that of the literary character… Playful but challenging, moving and meticulous.”
– Amber Wilkinson, Screen Daily

“A kaleidoscopic adventure that dives ruff-deep into Woolf’s literary classic Orlando: A Biography, linking the 1928 gender fluid novel with trans identity, theory, politics and poetics…An unorthodox, delicious adaptation of the book… A beguiling, dazzling gem of a film that manages to live proudly and beautifully in the fuzziness of gender, sexuality, humanity, and art…The result is a perfect merging of political theory, rebellious collective will and radical imagination.”
– Ezra Winton, POV Magazine

“The latest to tackle Woolf’s text and surely one of the most original to do so… In various ways — deeply heartfelt, often funny…never less than joyous — the performers speak about their relationship with the text through personal experiences while, in voice over, Preciado distills a life spent grappling with the novel into a poetic and philosophical treatise, providing a robust foundation for the more earnest emotions onscreen.”
– Rory O’Connor, The Film Stage

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