Quickly, off the top of your head, name your favorite feature-length movie helmed by a transgender-identified director.

If you are having trouble coming up with an answer, I doubt anybody will hold that against you; trans-directed titles are not exactly making a big splash at your local multiplex.  What makes it so great to be a queer cinephile in the Twin Cities, however, is every so often we are afforded the opportunity not only to hear some truly unique voices in the film world, but we get have the rare chance to give a much-needed boost to the filmmakers of our community.

Prodigal Sons, an autobiographical documentary by trans-identified director Kimberly Reed, makes its Twin Cities debut this week at Minneapolis’ St. Anthony Main Theater.  While explicitly marketing itself as a chronicle of Reed’s adopted brother Marc and his journey to discover the startling truth behind his lineage, the film perhaps more implicitly touts itself as one of the very few feature films by an openly transgender director to garner a semi-prominent national release schedule.

In the film’s press release Reed indicates that, despite efforts to keep the documentary focused on Marc’s story, the movie transformed organically into a story that was as much her own as it was Marc’s.  “I knew I’d end up in this film,” Reed says, “but I had no idea it would become the personal journey it did.”  Reed elaborates that the uniqueness of her film comes from “its exploration of the universal truths every family grapples with.”

Most moviegoers are probably too busy trying to pencil in some time to go see Avatar for their fiftieth time, but I sincerely hope I will not be the only one this week who gives Prodigal Sons a chance.  I have not seen the movie yet, though the premise has certainly piqued my interest.  Right now, however,  I am less concerned about the actual quality of the documentary than I am about the implications of forking over $8.50 to support a small film that probably has only a week or two to make any kind of a financial or cultural dent.

I may not know if Prodigal Sons will be any good, but I do know that once I purchase my ticket, the product of an artist’s painstaking work will have earned more than simply another $8.50.  Reed will also have earned the voice of at least one more audience member who can bring her film – regardless of how good it is – into the greater discussion of both documentary and queer cinema.  Just imagine the influence this kind of expanded discussion can have on the possibilities of future directors within our community.

When queer filmmakers are trying desperately to break into an industry that determines success through Return on Investment and box office receipts, the simple act of buying a ticket can mean everything.

Prodigal Sons is now playing at the St. Anthony Main Theater in Minneapolis.  Single tickets cost $8.50 apiece, but group discounts are available for larger parties.  Click here for this week’s showtimes.

The Column will be posting its review of Prodigal Sons later this week.

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