On Monday, Oct. 22, Mary B. Martin School of the Arts showed writer and director T Cooper’s powerful documentary “Man Made,” a film from the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers.
“It really struck me when I first saw it, and I hope it will strike a chord with all of you as well,” said Anita DeAngelis, director of Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, when she opened the showing with her own experience watching the film. “I think we are in a time where we need to learn more about one another, and this film certainly helped me with that.”
The documentary follows the lives of four transgender men, each in different phases of their transition, as they prepare to compete in Atlanta’s TRANSFIT CON – the world’s only transgender bodybuilding competition.
In the film, Cooper is able to showcase private, personal moments in the lives of these men, moments the rest of the world may have never have had the opportunity to see before. From one man’s double mastectomy surgery to another beginning testosterone treatments; from the rekindling of family relationships to the ending of romantic ones, the film shows it all.
Cooper held a post-film discussion with those in attendance.
“I feel like I don’t see a lot of these stories out there,” Cooper said. “This just felt like a way to capture many versions of what a trans male life is like.”
Because the film addresses a somewhat new subject matter, it can be difficult to decide what makes it into the final cut. Cooper states that they had recorded upwards of 300 hours of footage, while the project as a whole took about three years to complete.
Cooper’s wife, filmmaker Allison Glock-Cooper, also shared her thoughts on the making of the film.
“We are keenly aware of being as respectful as possible, especially when there is so little content about this particular population,” she said. “We felt this huge burden of responsibility to get it right and be truthful, honorable and decent at the same time.”
Attendees were astounded at the intricacies of the human struggle Cooper portrayed so well.
“It was phenomenally made,” said ETSU student Erika Brown. “It covered a lot of the aspects a lot of my trans friends talk about. It was great to see the female to male transition because that is something that we don’t get covered a lot. It was beautiful. I felt a lot of emotion.”