Visible Silence

DIRECTOR: Ruth Gumnit

North American Premiere

Expected to attend: Director Ruth Gumnit, Producer Marguerite Salmon

In Thai society, women can love one another only in private. A woman who embodies a masculine gender presentation and expresses affection toward another woman is labeled a “tom” and devalued for being a lesbian. A more traditionally feminine woman who prefers the company of toms is a “dee” and also considered abnormal. Award-winning filmmaker Ruth Gumnit (Don’t Fence Me In: Major Mary and the Karen Refugees from Burma, Frameline29), collaborating with a bi-national team, takes a delicate but probing look at Thai women in such relationships as they must decide whether to regain society’s approval by marrying a man and bearing children or risk their careers, family support, and societal reputation for life and love with another woman. Through their own words and images—interviews, old photographs, and scenes of daily life—we’re treated to a rich panorama of lesbian experience in Thailand: lesbians are elephant tour guides, mill owners, Buddhist nuns, professors, and rice farmers, who find ways to accommodate their goals and passions even within the silence. We see encouraging developments in the gender rights organization Anjaree, supporting toms and dees in a country where they’re becoming increasingly visible and will maybe someday be fully accepted.

— Frako Loden

This film is a recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund grant.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D326

Co-presented by:
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women & Transgender Community
Center for Asian American Media

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