Program 08: The Garden Left BehindDirected by Flavio Alves
We welcome Tamara Williams and Kristen P. Lovell as our special guests. They will be available for Q&A following the screening.
Tamara Williams | Actor
Tamara M. Williams is a NY based Actor/Dancer/Writer. She is best known for her roles in FX’s “Pose” as Summer, she has also appeared in “Eve’s Song” at the Public Theatre. She choreographed for New York Times Critics pick play “Street Children”. She Studied Performance as a child at Harlem School of The Arts.
Kristen P. Lovell | Producer
Kristen P. Lovell is an actress and producer who has always had a passion for film and dramatic arts. A resident of Brooklyn NY, Kristen was featured in HBO’S Random Acts of Flyness and co-produced The Garden Left Behind (winner of the SXSW 2019 Audience Award). A fierce trans advocate who has spoken out against media misrepresentation of trans women, Kristen also produced the documentary, Trans in Media, which has been featured at the International Center For Photography, Aperture and Cornell’s Ivy Q. Kristen recently attended Lincoln Center’s artist academy for NYFF 57.
In English and Spanish with some English subtitles.
For his feature film directorial debut, Flavio Alves (short film Tom in America, ImageOut 2014) teams up veteran actors Ed Asner and Michael Madsen with relative newcomer Carlie Guevara in an intimate, poignant, and powerful film portraying the marginalization, struggles, and transphobia experienced by an undocumented trans woman of color in New York City.
Guevara stars as Tina, a young Mexican trans woman who shares a warm and accepting relationship with her grandmother, Eliana (Miriam Cruz). Despite the occasional misgendering when Eliana repeatedly confuses Tina’s pronouns, their mutual love is always apparent. Unfortunately they live with constant insecurity as undocumented immigrants, requiring Tina to obtain forged paperwork, both for her transition and to gain steady employment. Tina is not only supporting the two of them financially, but is also attempting to pay for the counseling required to receive the estrogen therapy that she deeply desires.
Ed Asner (TV’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show) plays Tina’s therapist, Dr. Cleary, who is recommended by several of Tina’s trans friends. While she initially meets him with predictable trepidation (as he holds the power to approve or deny her referral for treatment) their relationship subtly changes for the better over time and Asner brings tempered warmth to the role of a somewhat benevolent “gatekeeper.”
Tina’s partner, Jason (Alex Cruz) is only barely willing to be seen with her in public, despite his obvious attraction. Michael Madsen (Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs) plays a completely different kind of character from his norm as Kevin, the bantering tavern owner who challenges Tina to “beat the clock” mixing drinks, and ends up so impressed that he hires her on the spot.
Regrettably, there’s a darker side to Tina’s journey as she faces the complexities inherent to living as an undocumented trans woman of color. These include the side-long glances, misogynist and transphobic comments, her boyfriend’s apparent shame at being seen with her, and even the seemingly conflicted attraction and contempt so obvious at the counter of the neighborhood bodega.
With a cast that features trans actors in every trans role (it can be done!), strong cinematography, writing, and acting, Alves has crafted The Garden Left Behind into a film that offers a realistic, contemporary illustration of the friends, family, lovers, and sadly the bigotry so common to trans and intersectional identities.
~ Jennifer Morgan
Awards & Accolades
- Visions Audience Award – SXSW Film Festival
- Audience Award, Best Feature Narrative – Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festival
- Audience Award, Best Narrative Feature – Wicked Queer Boston LGBT Film Festival
- Audience Award, Best of Fest – Bentonville Film Festival
- Jury Award, Best Drama Feature – North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
- Jury Award, Best Screenplay, Best Feature Film, Best Actress – Sunscreen Film Festival (Florida)
- Official Selection – Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival
- Official Selection – Frameline SF Int’l LGBTQ+ Film Festival
- Official Selection – Outfest LA LGBT Film Festival
- Official Selection – Cleveland International Film Festival