WHEN MEN WERE MEN (Austin Film Fest) – Review by Diane Carson

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Writers/directors Aidan Dick and Izzi Rojas jump right into the action in When Men Were Men with a theater exercise. This theater group will play a role throughout the narrative for the film’s central character Kieran Dearg. In fact, she’s cast, quite reluctantly, as the lead in the theater group’s next production, Billy Elliott. However, Kiernan’s primary focus is her sexual self as she feels committed to transitioning to male identity.

Set in Ireland, about an hour outside Dublin, Kay, as she’s often called, faces her family’s criticism of her sexual experimentation and exploration as well as condemnation by a very preachy Catholic priest who lectures and admonishes her. Meantime she becomes romantically involved with Egan, a young gay friend from whom she withholds secrets.

Co-writer/co-director Aidan Dick plays Egan; co-writer/co-director Izzi Rojas takes on the central Kieran role. The heartfelt commitment to this project produces some convincing, empathetic moments. It’s a familiar, even at times clichéd, message but one still critically important to those who are transgender and all who do, as all should, support them. With an estimated budget of $25,000 (imdb listing), what is accomplished is impressive.

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Diane Carson

Diane Carson, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, has reviewed films for over 25 years and has covered the Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Palm Springs, and Sundance festivals. She writes for KDHX, 88.1 FM. St. Louis’ community radio. One of the founders of the St. Louis International Film Festival, she continues to serve on juries. A past president of the University Film and Video Association, she taught film studies and production at St. Louis Community College and at Webster University. Her new book, written with two colleagues, is “Appetites and Anxieties: Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation,” Wayne State U. Press, 2014.