Film Review of “In France Michelle Is A Man’s Name”

By Vernon Nickerson

How many fathers have introduced/given their transgendered children things as adults as if they were children who were never allowed to say no thanks and or reject the offer? Writer-Director Em Weinsten highlights in a taut short film the primary issue of this dynamic where something is demanded from another without asking permission or without determining if a “gift” was what was needed or wanted.

Michael, a young trans man, returns home to the rural American West after years of estrangement from his parents. “In France Michelle is a Man’s Name” explores trans identity, masculinity, and the prices we’re willing to pay for acceptance. Actors Ari Damasco as Michael, Jerry Carlton as Mike’s dad, and Olga Sanchez as Mike’s mom provide the maximum focus and emotional intensity critical to the best short films. With Grand Jury prizes from Slamdance and Outfest film festivals, “In France Michelle is a Man’s Name” also has a “Best Live Action Short” Oscar nomination.

The best gifts make an emotional connection and create good memories. Does any good come when we try to give or take gifts without asking? “In France Michelle is a Man’s Name” is an excellent short film that can hopefully set the stage for much-needed discussions between families and the trans, female, and queer children who love them.

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