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Vancouver Island filmmaker wins Sundance awards for unique look at historic gender studies

A still image from Framing Agnes, a film written, directed and produced by University of Victoria gender studies professor Chase Joynt.  A still image from Framing Agnes, a film written, directed and produced by University of Victoria gender studies professor Chase Joynt.
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A Vancouver Island filmmaker has won a pair of awards at the Sundance Film Festival for a unique look into the private archive of the gender studies clinic at UCLA.

Framing Agnes was written, directed and produced by University of Victoria gender studies professor Chase Joynt and claimed the 2022 Sundance Film Festival NEXT Innovator Award and NEXT Audience Award.

The film is presented as an experimental hybrid documentary that uncovers historic case files from the UCLA gender clinic in the late 1950s.

“One of the things that’s so interesting about this collection of files is that it’s from a moment in time when doctors and researchers were literally making the categories of sex and gender that we all have to this day,” said Joynt.

The story follows a transgender woman named Agnes who took part in a gender health research program while seeking care through the clinic.

Her story was considered unique until 2017 when eight other similar case files were discovered.

“We found eight case files in the rusted filing cabinet in the private archive, as we explore in the film, and our project animates six of those cases,” said Joynt.

“One of the things that these case studies reveal to us is the extraordinary scope of experience across lines of race and class," Joynt said.

"We're so often made to think that nobody was there and that there was only one or two people, and our project really explodes open that, in reality, there were many people.”

Framing Agnes is now set for its Canadian premiere at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto in May.

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