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“I HATE NEW YORK” (2018)
From the underground scene of the most radical and fascinating city in the world comes the revolutionary story of four transgender activists, their fierce struggle and emotional fight to create an identity of their own.
Directed by: Gustavo Sánchez
Executive producers: J.A. Bayona, Fiona Vidal-Quadras and Carlos Bayona
Producers: Sandra Hermida, Javier Soto and Ricard Robles
Delegate Producer: Soledad Martínez
Produced by: Colosé Producciones, Silent Soundsystem and Gustavo Sánchez, with collaboration from Películas La Trini
Music by: Music by: ARCA, Alva Noto + Ryūichi Sakamoto, Koreless, Sharon Needles, Transisters, LCC, Gio Black Peter, Colin Self, Mr.K!, Demmy Sober and many more.
Edited by: Jaume Martí and Gerard López Oriach
New York, 2007-2017. Over a decade, the director delves into the private world of Amanda Lepore, Chloe Dzubilo, Sophia Lamar and T De Long; four artists and transgender activists from the city’s underground scene. Little by little, their testimonies reveal fragments of a past –sometimes dramatic, always fascinating and simply extraordinary– that formed their identities and transformed their lives. Their words, fears and hopes take the audience from an outsider’s point of view to being emotionally invested in their destiny.
New York City at the turn of the 21stcentury. Four transgender artists from the city’s underground scene –Amanda Lepore, Chloe Dzubilo, Sophia Lamar and T De Long– go beyond honesty, passion and tears, to reveal how their fight for freedom built a bridge between transgender activism and Manhattan’s alternative nightlife scene.
Through intertwined narratives, fragments of their past are gradually unveiled, inviting audiences to reflect on the complexity of fate, hope and survival, and their unique struggle against adversity. In the process, we become not only passive spectators of their fight, but also confidantes of their extraordinary stories and lives.
‘I Hate New York’ also tells, for the first time, the story of Chloe Dzubilo, trans artist and HIV activist, who since the ‘90s played a decisive role as an advocate for the transgender community as well as people living with AIDS during the height of the epidemic. Over a decade (2007-2017) filmmaker Gustavo Sánchez explored Manhattan’s East Side. Intuitively, he built up an authentic visual narrative about the city’s identity, now almost forgotten. In particular, he set his eye on the survivors of the art and club scene that emerged in the late ‘80s and began to fade after 9/11. It was a time when the trans community and trans artists blended with the punk, disco, rap and new wave scenes, using music and also performance art as venues for expression and activism.
Always on the move and capturing a unique moment in time, the camera travels effortlessly from behind the scenes, through narrow hallways, in and out of cabs, along steep staircases, and out to the middle of the city’s bustling streets, into the bowels of underground dives and sleazy motel rooms, dark bathrooms and impossible dressing rooms, while capturing looks, gestures, confessions and intimate moments soaked in honesty and emotion.
In lieu of a structured narrative, the stories are woven together by the film’s soundtrack; a meticulous track selection that includes music by acclaimed contemporary artist ARCA, as well as Academy Award®-winning composer Ryūichi Sakamoto, renowned experimental musician and sound explorer Alva Noto, and iconic drag singer Sharon Needles. ‘I Hate New York’ unique wall of sound also adds the punk-rock music of the Transisters, whose story is part of the film.
Genre: Documentary Feature.
Language: English and Spanish.
Running time: 75 minutes.
Directed by: Gustavo Sánchez.
Cast: Amanda Lepore, Chloe Dzubilo, Sophia Lamar, T De Long, Bibbe Hansen, Io Tillett-Wright, Katrina del Mar, Linda Simpson.
Music by: ARCA, Alva Noto + Ryūichi Sakamoto, Koreless, Sharon Needles, Transisters, LCC, Gio Black Peter, Colin Self, Mr.K!, Demmy Sober and many more.
Executive Producers: J.A. Bayona, Fiona Vidal-Quadras and Carlos Bayona.
Producers: Ricard Robles, Sandra Hermida and Javier Soto. Delegate Producer: Soledad Martínez.
Produced by: Colosé Producciones, Silent Soundsystem and Gustavo Sánchez, with collaboration from Películas La Trini.
Edited by: Jaume Martí and Gerard López Oriach.
Sound Design: Leo Dolgan.
Format: Digital (DCP) color. 16:9.
Shooting Locations: New York, U.S.A.
Release Date: 2018
Rating: 16+ (in Spain)
At age 7, Sánchez began his path in journalism at Radio Úbeda (Cadena Ser), hosting his own radio program, which earned him the recognition of being the youngest radio host in Spain. Since then he has interviewed hundreds of people who work in music and film, and from the worlds of Spanish and international culture, for different media.
He studied Languages and Literature at the University of Granada and at the University of Aberdeen, and holds a degree in Audiovisual Communication from the University of Salamanca.
In those years I was already attracted to the intellectual challenge of Buñuel‘s cinema, the emotional tension of the Nouvelle Vague, the narrative suspense of films by Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, as well as the charged and intimate aesthetic atmospheres of work by David Cronenberg, Won Kar Wai, David Lynch and Atom Egoyan.
In the 2000s, the amazing rawness of the documentary Tarnation by Jonathan Caouette inspired me to foray into less formal genres that portrayed extreme characters and situations. Shortbus, by John Cameron Mitchell, connected me to a generation of marginalized people who were struggling to express themselves freely in a New York that was already well on the way to hyper-normalization.
It was around this time, when influenced by those two films, I decided to delve, camera in hand, into the experiences of similar outsiders.On trips over a period of 10 years (2007-2017) I experienced the daily lives, and especially the nights, of more than 50 people whom I interviewed. They introduced me to a New York and an underground scene that already seemed to be barreling toward extinction.
I Hate New York dives into the alternative subculture of a city that is very different from the mythicized metropolis, a place that is difficult to access for Times Square tourists and Wall Street yuppies. Intentionally, I always shot in winter, in a gray and cold environment that let me accentuate a certain harshness. I began filming this documentary in 2007.
With the commotion of 9/11 still a recent memory, the city was still on high-alert, giving the feeling of living in a fortress-state. It was a city “under siege” by the authorities and by a certain excess of paranoid civic responsibility where, unless there was evidence to the contrary, any gesture, look or movement made with a video camera could be interpreted as an act identifiable as “terrorism”.
Without any artificial lighting or tripods, and of course without a script, using a small home video camera that fit into my coat pocket, I talked, danced and lived alongside musicians, filmmakers, P.R. agents, writers, journalists, visual artists, fashion designers, strippers, dealers, drag queens, theoreticians, promoters, gallery owners… And with countless nameless people from unfamiliar origins and destinies.
Out of all those voices and experiences, and hundreds of hours of footage, the stories of four women stood out with extraordinary power. Four transsexual women whose lives in the city were (and are) a constant struggle to exist on their own terms, to live their lives and to express themselves freely, as they break with political and cultural norms and conventions.
In recent years, transsexuality has been upheld by the system as something glamorous and normative. Today, transsexuality can be seen as something acceptable and even admirable, provided that it conforms to what the system considers profitable and acceptable. In other words, transgender people are welcome as long as they are integrated, successful and they convey a binary and stereotyped concept of gender: “Women have long hair and wear heels,” or “Men have short hair and should be muscular.
” I Hate New York shows another face (many others, really) of transsexuality: nonconformists, activists and revolutionaries who have struggled to confront prejudices or leave them behind, who have built up their own personalities and identities through art, and who have refused to conform to the constraints of the system but have instead created their own.
This film teaches us that people can break with the stereotyped norms and imposed rules regarding roles and gender, adapting them to how they feel, to their identities and to who they want to be. The life choices and the artistic endeavours of our heroines run against the tide or even adrift in their search for the freedom they so longed for, which they hoped to find in New York.
Midway between New Journalism and experimental cinema, I Hate New York is a portrait with a purely human focus on the lives of four women who are true survivors. A tour through their unique pasts and their present everyday lives. A narrative exercise in the style of Boyhood but in documentary form, based on pure reality as opposed to fiction.
Finally, for me, this film represents a vibrant and passionate defense of freedom of thought and freedom of expression. I Hate New York is a necessary mental state, a refusal to conform to prevailing limitations. A vindication of the primitive nature of creativity, of spontaneity and the uniqueness of every human being in a world that is increasingly normalized, globalized and homogenous. Gustavo Sánchez, Director