But as the culture has evolved, the film has proved to be very much of its time, with a contradictory legacy that trans viewers have grappled with. The movie was based on the tragic true story of Brandon Teena, a year-old Nebraska trans man who was raped and murdered in His death was the subject of salacious headlines, and it galvanized a small group of trans people to witness the trial and claim him as one of their own. The director Kimberly Peirce, then a graduate student at Columbia University, was there, too, traveling with the Transexual Menace activist group as research for the film about Teena she was desperate to make. A self-described butch who, she told me, was questioning her identity at the time, she felt an instant connection with Teena. Peirce met with Lana Tisdel, the woman Brandon Teena fell for, and eventually secured her life rights. At the time, the cultural conversation around transgender lives was virtually nonexistent.
Movies / TV
Jude Dry. The independent film boom of the s launched many brilliant actors, but perhaps none flew higher than Hilary Swank. She took the chance on a risky role in a micro-budget film with a provocative subject matter and an unknown director — and walked away with an Oscar. Distributed by Fox Searchlight in , it was a critical and box-office surprise success that went all the way to the Oscars. At the time, Swank took a huge gamble on an incredibly challenging role and what was then an incendiary topic. The idea of making a movie for a certain budget, it was just this brilliant idea of being able to take a risk on telling a story that there is an audience for, you just have to make it to be able to find that audience. Build it, they will come.
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The film is a dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena played in the film by Hilary Swank , an American trans man who attempts to find himself and love in Nebraska but falls victim to a brutal hate crime perpetrated by two male acquaintances. After reading about the case while in college, Peirce conducted extensive research for a screenplay, which she worked on for almost five years. The film focuses on the relationship between Brandon and Lana. The script took dialogue directly from archive footage in the documentary The Brandon Teena Story. Swank was chosen because her personality seemed similar to Teena's. Most of the film's characters were based on real-life people; others were composites. Filming occurred during October and November in the Dallas, Texas area. The producers initially wanted to film in Falls City, Nebraska , where the real-life events had taken place; however, budget constraints meant that principal photography had to occur in Texas.