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Vancouver film proceeds despite anti-trans petition in Europe

Opposition reinforces the film’s importance, say filmmakers

Filmmakers Florian Halbedl and Joshua M Ferguson (seen here at the 2014 Directors Guild of Canada Awards) say the Christian petition against funding their film shows why it’s necessary to produce the film. Credit: Courtesy of Joshua M Ferguson

Despite opposition from a Christian anti-trans petition in Europe and uncertainty about funding, two Vancouver directors say their short film about a gender-fluid child will begin production on Oct 17, 2015.

Co-director Florian Halbedl describes Limina as the story of a male-bodied child named Alessandra, played by Ameko Eks Mass Carroll.

“Essentially it’s about the acceptance of this person by everyone in their village, and their magical, curious adventures,” explains Halbedl, who says the film’s setting was inspired by a small town in Switzerland.

Halbedl and co-director Joshua M Ferguson travelled to Switzerland to investigate the possibility of producing the film there. The pair met with representatives from the Swiss cantons of Nidwalden and Obwalden who, they say, seemed receptive to the project and encouraged them to apply for public grants.

“I was born and raised there and was told that was enough of a connection to merit my canton’s support, even though I no longer live there,” Halbedl says. “A lot of people were very positive and they advised me that my connection would warrant an application for funding.”

News of the film, however, attracted negative attention in Europe, including an anonymous petition on CitizenGo, a website that promotes Christian activist causes. The petition has over 17,000 signatures as of Oct 15.

The petition labels gender fluidity as a disorder and denounces the film as propaganda for the “LGBT lobby.” It urges Franz Enderli, who heads Obwalden and Nidwalden’s Department of Education and Culture, to deny the filmmakers’ application for funding.

Enderli did not respond to Daily Xtra’s request for comment by posting time.

“I think this is reflective of a very dangerous and retrogressive perspective on trans people and ultimately it provides clear evidence for our film’s importance,” Ferguson says. “I’m a non-binary trans person and I really do view this as a form of violence against trans people.”

Ferguson and Halbedl say they have yet to receive a decision on their Swiss funding applications.

“To be clear, we are not sure where the cantons really stand on this, but we have had very positive experiences with them when visiting Switzerland this past summer,” Ferguson says.

“We met with them and they were very supportive and encouraged us to submit formal funding applications in both cantons based on Florian’s heritage, and we hope this petition would have no bearing on these committees’ decisions. It’s an example of an extreme form of religion attempting to censor very important cultural productions.”

Ferguson says the film will go ahead with or without Swiss funding, noting that they have raised nearly $30,000 to date through two Indiegogo campaigns.

“We hope to finish the project by early spring so we are ready for festivals,” Ferguson says.

The film will now be produced in Vancouver where, the directors note, it’s less costly to produce.