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SXSW First Look: Documentary ‘Who I Am Not’ Highlights Courageous Duo Publicly “Breaking The Intersex Taboo”

'Who I Am Not' graphic

EXCLUSIVE: Upwards of 2 percent of the world’s population is intersex, according to estimates, but despite those substantial numbers intersex individuals remain largely invisible in most cultures.

The documentary Who I Am Not, making its North American premiere next month at SXSW, shatters taboos by exploring the experience of two intersex people – a beauty queen and a male-presenting activist, each of whom was born “male and female within one single body.” We have your first look at the film written and directed by Tünde Skovrán in the exclusive trailer above.

Who I Am Not gives voice to the long ignored and mostly silent two percent of the world’s population: the intersex community… A personal exploration of truth, faith, and belonging,” notes a release about the documentary. “Sharon-Rose Khumalo, a South African beauty queen, plunges into an identity crisis after finding out she is intersex. She needs the guidance of somebody just like her. The only person who will help is Dimakatso Sebidi, a male-presenting intersex activist who turns out to be her complete opposite. The two parallel but divergent stories are an intimate look at the struggle of living in a male-female world, when you are born in-between.”

This is the nonfiction directorial debut of Skovrán, a Romanian-born filmmaker and actress. 

“My intention with this film is to invite the audience to become both witness and participant to what it is like to live inside the skin of an intersex person,” Skovrán says in a director’s statement. “Who I Am Not is born out of a long research period, during which I worked with people living different intersex experiences. They took the risk to embark with me on a challenging, emotional journey.”

She adds, “Sharon, Dimakatso, and I spent the past four years working together to develop our shared voice, giving Who I Am Not a unique collaborative quality. I felt that it was not fair to just observe my characters. I had to offer them something in return for their trust. I introduced group therapy, psychodrama, acting, and even dream interpretation techniques in our work. That strengthened our relationship, helped build their self-confidence, and gave the joint work a meaning for them, as well. These exercises also inspired the visual world of the film. The form became as important as the content.”

Who I Am Not makes its world premiere on March 5 at the Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival in Greece before heading to Austin, Texas and its SXSW debut on March 11. It is an acquisition title, with CAT&Docs handling international and North American sales. Oscar-winning star Patricia Arquette serves as executive producer, along with Andrei Zincă, Tünde Skovrán, Marc Smolowitz, Jafta Mekgoe, Danielle Turkov, and Virginia Watters. 

The documentary is produced by Double 4 Studios Romania, in co-production with Filmoption (Canada), and in association with South Africa. Andrei Zincă produces; co-producers are Paul Cadieux and Patrick Hamm. The editor is Marianna Rudas HSE and composer Luc Sicard provides the score.

Watch the exclusive trailer above.

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