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THE BRANDON TEENA STORY

USA, 1997 (MIFF 1998, Documentaries)

Director: Susan Muska, Gréta Ólafsdóttir

One of the many chilling moments in this superb lo-lo-budget documentary occurs when a veteran US marshall reluctantly admits that there are residents in his Nebraska jurisdiction that do not consider people with any differences (race, religion, sexual persuasion) as human. This twisted hillbilly logic is then used to justify rape, beatings and murder.

Teena Brandon - a young girl who lived as a teenaged boy called Brandon Teena - was murdered along with a friend and a passing visitor in an isolated farmhouse. A nine month old infant was spared simply because the bungling assassins failed to bring enough ammunition.

The Brandon Teena Story is a tale of backwater ignorance told with immense passion. The documentary is a cinematic headstone for three innocents. On Christmas Eve 1992, two young white trash losers, fresh out of jail, decide to humiliate Brandon by revealing her gender to friends. After stripping her in front of assembled party guests, they abducted, sexually assaulted and viciously beat her. When it appeared that the local sheriff, himself a staunch bigot, would press charges, the pair decide to dispose of all witnesses. A week later, New Year's Eve 1993, Teena Brandon is shot dead while begging for her life.

The daily struggle against prejudice and the fatal results form a universal story, told simply and flying in the face of budget restrictions, rendered in an intriguing style and exhibiting a tremendous natural faculty for revealing human drama. Breathtaking new cinema encompassing a dark and shocking reality.

Born in the USA in 1958, Susan Muska has worked as as freelance cinematographer and producer specialising in social issues and reports on the US health system. Muska has made several short features for television. Gréta ólafsdóttir, born in 1957 in Iceland, has worked principally as an art, fashion and news photographer. The Brandon Teena Story is their first documentary.

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