Independent Lens: Real Boy

Independent Lens: Real Boy

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 10:00pm - 11:00pm

Pictured: Trans teen Bennett shows his first chin hair to his friend and mentor, Joe Stevens.

Credit: Courtesy of Shaleece Haas

A moving and intimate story of a family in transition, Independent Lens: Real Boy premiering Monday, June 19, 2017 at 10:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV, follows the journey of trans teen Bennett as he navigates adolescence, sobriety, and the physical and emotional ramifications of his changing gender identity.

Through the process, his mother Suzy makes her own transformation — travelling a difficult road toward accepting that the daughter she raised as Rachael is now her son Bennett. Filmed over the course of four years, Real Boy is a love story about a mother and son who rediscover connection with each other and find support from their communities, reminding us that families are not only given, but chosen. Produced and directed by Shaleece Haas, 

“All I want is to be loved by my family, but for my family, it’s not as simple as that,” says Bennett. “It’s complicated for them.” Through interviews with his mother and old home movies, we meet Bennett as a joyful, happy child, but that changed as he grew older. Adolescence brought anger, substance abuse, and self-destructive behaviors. When Bennett began to share his true identity as male, he felt happier inside but faced resistance from his family. Finding solace online with other teens facing the same issues, the aspiring musician is also taken under the wing of his idol Joe Stevens, a celebrated transgender musician fighting his own demons.

Through observational storytelling that is alternately heartbreaking and humorous, Real Boy offers a clear-eyed look at a family tested by a change they never imagined, the complexity of addiction, the healing power of music, and the unbreakable bond between mother and child.

Real Boy will also screen at the Little Theatre on Monday, June 5  at 6:30 p.m. as part of WXXI's Indie Lens Pop-Up series. WXXI partnered with the Gay Alliance and ImageOut to organize this free screening. Following the screening Bennett and Joe will participate in a Q&A and perform a couple of tunes. For more information on this event, click here

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