The pseudonymous Agnes was a pioneering transgender woman who participated in an infamous gender health study conducted at UCLA in the 1960s. Her clever use of the study to gain access to gender-affirming healthcare led to her status as a fascinating and celebrated figure in trans history. In this innovative cinematic exercise that blends fiction and nonfiction, director Chase Joynt (NO ORDINARY MAN) uses Agnes’ story — along with others unearthed in long-shelved case files — to widen the frame through which trans history is viewed. In a collaborative practice of reimagination, an all-star cast of trans performers, artists and thinkers — including Angelica Ross (Pose), Jen Richards (Mrs. Fletcher), and Zackary Drucker (Transparent) — take on vividly rendered, impeccably vintage reenactments, bringing to life groundbreaking artifacts of trans history. This collective reclamation breaks down the myth of isolation among transgender history-makers, breathing new life into a lineage of collaborators and conspirators who have been forgotten for far too long.
“It’s about the truths we share and the truths we will never know. It’s about how this is what makes us human, this is what we’re fighting to achieve. It’s visibility and invisibility all at once. It’s an elusive tribute fitting for these trans people of the past — except, of course, I can’t know that for sure.” ––Drew Burnett Gregory, Autostraddle “Much like the UCLA interviews that inspired it, FRAMING AGNES is a vital part of the historical record, addressing trans life as we know it right now and providing deeper understanding for current and future viewers.” ––Alonso Duralde, The Wrap “A fascinating discussion about the transgender experience in a way that simultaneously engages with the past and present.” ––Nick Allen, rogerebert.com