Sundance Sets 2023 Fellows For Trans Possibilities Intensive

The Sundance Institute has named the six transgender storytellers of color set for the second edition of their project and professional development program, the Trans Possibilities Intensive. 2023’s cohort will include Seyi Adebanjo (Afromystic), Rajvi Desai (Mother Wit), Malik Ever (GutBucket), Nick Janaye (Dead Ringer), Jamie John (2Spirit Water Carrier) and Tee Park Jaehyung (Destiny in Sedona).

First introduced in 2021, the Trans Possibilities Intensive builds on Sundance’s proud history of supporting trans artists across artist programs and Festival programming, providing an ancillary environment for creatives to enhance their voice and craft, foster relationships with each other, and challenge the obstacles that continue to exclude transgender artists. 2023 Fellows were selected through a nominations-based application and will benefit from project-based granting, mentorship and other custom, year-round creative and professional development opportunities.

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The program, designed by and for trans people, couldn’t be more necessary at a time when attacks on trans rights are so prevalent stateside, with bills most recently being introduced that would threaten everything from gender-affirming health care fo transgender youth to their participation in school sports. Its second go-round will take place from today, March 27th through the 29th under the leadership of Moi Santos, Founder of the Trans Possibilities Intensive, with guidance from experienced creative advisors and Sundance Institute’s Equity, Impact, and Belonging Program. Creative Advisors include Sydney Freeland (Drunktown’s Finest), Aitch Alberto (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), Félix Endara (UNSEEN) and Chase Joynt (Framing Agnes).

“Meaningfully supporting and advancing trans people, voices, and stories remains a priority for Sundance. The recent, incessant, and baseless scrutiny is nothing new to trans people, and further reflects the need for opportunities for trans people to have the autonomy to explore their transness on their own terms,” said Santos, who serves as Manager of Equity, Impact, and Belonging at Sundance Institute. “This year’s cohort uplifts an extensive and essential range of artistic approaches, stories, and experiences and we’re looking forward to developing a relationship that will birth creative possibilities, risk-taking, and necessary change in this industry.”

As part of the 2023 Intensive, Santos will moderate a live conversation on Sundance’s digital learning space Sundance Collab titled “Trapped In Transit: Transgender Storytelling with Visionary Filmmakers Aitch Alberto and Sydney Freeland.” The talk taking place on the 29th will interrogate the limits, liberties, comforts, and confines of trans cultural representation, and is open to the general public. For information on how to attend, click here.

Read more about the Trans Possibilities Intensive’s latest set of fellows and projects below.

Seyi Adebanjo (director) with Afromystic (U.S.A.): Afromystic is a lyrical documentary guided by four LGBTQ Yorùbá practitioners across the waters of Nigeria, the US, and Brazil reclaiming lost mythologies such as deities who change gender and are born from the love of two womxn. Afromystic weaves animated Queer & Trans Òrìṣà mythology, poetry, theater, and ritual.

Seyi Adebanjo is a Queer Gender-Non-Conforming Nigerian artist who raises awareness around social issues through video. Seyi’s work exists at the intersection of art, imagination, ritual and politics. Seyi is on Creatives Rebuild New York Think Tank. Seyi was awarded a residency with The Laundromat Project, Fatales Forward: Trans Stories Fellowship.

Rajvi Desai (director, co-producer, co-cinematographer, editor) with Mother Wit (U.S.A.): An ailing Black trans matriarch struggles to inculcate the values of education and survival in her community before she runs out of time.

Rajvi Desai is a non-binary South Asian filmmaker and editor based in New York City. Rajvi’s work focuses on gender issues as they intersect with race, class and caste, both in the United States and in South Asia. Rajvi’s work has been published in, The Swaddle, and Eastern-Standard Times, as well as screened in film festivals in the U.S. and internationally.

Malik Ever (director/writer) with GutBucket (U.S.A.): After his estranged mother’s sudden death, West, a 54 year old trans man, returns home for the first time in twenty years to clean out his childhood home, where he starts to uncover his mother’s secrets. 

Malik Ever (they/them) is a trans/nonbinary, queer first generation Algerian American filmmaker. Originating in the theatre as “a heart-wrenching and hilarious physical theater performer and writer” (Phindie). They recently graduated from the AFI Conservatory with an MFA in Directing. Their short film, Gorditx, premiered at GLAFF in LA.

Nick Janaye (writer) with Dead Ringer (U.S.A.): After volunteering to prepare his father’s destination wedding, a trans man desperate for approval is tasked with killing a shapeshifting entity that ultimately threatens the lives of attendees.

Nick Janaye is an award winning screenwriter and graduate of the Sidney Poitier New American Film School. Known for his bold supernatural stories that combat marginalization, Nick is proudly genderfluid and dead set on amplifying LGBTQIA+, neurodivergent, and POC representation in film.

Jamie John (director/writer) with 2Spirit Water Carrier (U.S.A.): 2Spirit Water Carrier is an experimental work reflecting the Anishinaabe responsibility of carrying water and queer and trans Indigenous bodies. Ideas of gender sovereignty, land and queer body autonomy, and gender variance found throughout nature and history will be communicated through moving images of bodies, gender presentation, landscapes, and text.

Jamie John is a two-spirit trans and queer Anishinaabe and Korean-American multi-disciplinary artist (he/him and they/themme). They are a tribal citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Tee Park Jaehyung (writer) with Destiny in Sedona (U.S.A.): The lives of various lovelorn transgenders intertwine as they travel through the Arizona desert.

Tee Park Jaehyung is a filmmaker originally from Seoul, Korea. Her filmography includes the Pupal Stage, Winter Insect Summer Flower, and Tofu. A trans woman of immigrant experience, Park’s work explores alienation, unconventional bonds, and flawed female protagonists. She’s also a USC Screenwriting graduate and a proud SoCal girl.

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