What do you get when you combine German storytelling with a group of queer folks living in New York City? Well, according to filmmaker and leading starlet Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli, you get a film titled So Pretty.
Showcased recently in the CinemaQ portion of the Denver Film Festival 42, So Pretty is not a traditional story of overcoming barriers, complicated love triangles, and youth finding their identities. These characters are navigating through life in a gender euphoria which is simultaneously more strenuous, soft, and forgiving than that typical coming-of-age tale.
So Pretty is the story of four young, feminine, queer folks New York City in 2018 who are mid-transition in their gender expression, personal explorations, and their community at large. In an era of turbulence in the unnervingly pro-fascist U.S., the story of their struggle curiously merges with the German novella so schön by Ronald M. Schernikau. It’s a story of love, change, building community, and the relationship between art and life.
The dialogue flips between German and English as the characters move freely through scenes of spoken sonnets, love making, and protest. They read through portions of Dunn Rvinelli’s adaptation of so schön in the middle of a field in Central Park, one character after another at the microphone. As the film progresses, we watch the novella mirrored as their stories unfold.
In a time where trans characters are begging for a narrative that is not one of torture, torment, and societal refusal, So Pretty offers a space where these characters are outside the binary and are simply humans. The emotions are nuanced; the timeline is intricate, and the semi-documentary approach of the scripted depictions (which are played out by non-actors) give a fresh and buoyant approach to queer storytelling.
There is tension; there is sexuality; there is pain; there is pleasure. The drama of art and personhood generates a sense of belonging for queer folks who are not the mainstream stereotype. Through these Leftist ideals delivered through the prism of a femme genderf*ck, culture is yet to be defined for these young folks as they entangle themselves in their futures and each other.
So Pretty dives head-first into utopian sexuality, trans femininity, queerness, and potential for humanity unlike any other film has before.