FRAMELINE: QUICK CHANGE

Quick Change

Everybody in Manila’s beauty pageant–mad transgender community loves “Doctor” Dorina. Her in-home, under-the-table collagen-injection services not only provide gender-confirmation for her friends and community, but also might just help a girl win the intensely competitive Miss Gay Philippines contest. During her house calls Dorina says, “You want to be beautiful? You have to withstand the pain.” Between winces a customer rejoices, “This is where science and beauty meet!” But these treatments have other costs beyond a high price tag: they’re illegal and dangerous. Walking a legal and moral tightrope, Dorina maintains a discreet business tending to her addicted clients, with her little adoptive nephew in tow. Meanwhile, her handsome lover demands that she have bottom surgery, and when she balks, he turns his eye to another, younger transwoman, a pageant champion.

Eduardo Roy, Jr.’s second feature, like his first about a maternity ward (Baby Factory), skillfully and compassionately explores a community where the physical body endures pain and grave consequences for the sake of recognition and love. The streets, apartments, and stages of Dorina’s world come alive with documentary precision. Lead actress Mimi Juareza won an acting prize at the 2013 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival for her intense performance as Dorina, who prays to the Virgin Mary to keep her clients safe because she herself can’t guarantee it. (Viewers who are squeamish about needle sequences, consider yourselves forewarned.)

Philippines, 2013, 98 min.
Director: Eduardo Roy

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