Orchids: My Intersex Adventure (2010) (Not Rated)
Buzzfeed recently released a video about intersex people, part of the increasing LGBTQQIAAP acronym and a topic that is rarely talked about. In the open dialogues about gay rights, gay marriage, and sexual orientation, gender identity often slips into the background. Transgender activists and intersex advocates are trying to make the conversation more universally available, but the lack of support and small numbers of that involved make this an extremely hard task.
Now mix in the personal story side of it. Phoebe Hart is a documentarian who is intersex. She has many questions from the doctor's treatment of her condition to her parent's reactions to how it is viewed in society. "Orchids: My Intersex Adventure" tells the story of Phoebe traveling through Australia on a quest for self-realization and fulfillment. Maybe it's a little too cliched and campy for its own good; but consider "Orchids" to be one of the first. Though its construction is so often too amateur, its emotion cannot be questioned.
For "Orchids" is much more than a story about intersex visibility. The movie is about self and, yes, the quest; but it's also about film itself. It would be an impossible story to tell without Phoebe and her sister Bonnie's appreciation of making little movies. It acts as a window to both of their pasts that we can peer through.
As the movie begins, we are introduced to the terms: the medical terms and the emotional terms; but also the terms of the film itself. It feels like a work in process because much of "Orchids" is eaten up with the thought of making the documentary. It's not quite as—for lack of a better word—meta as something like "Adaptation" but there is a keen acknowledgement of the creation of the movie. We understand it more as a labor of love than a desire to view people on equal grounds; yet this is a byproduct of the movie.
Phoebe and her sister travel through Australia and meet other intersex people while talking mostly about the medical issues that are raised with this. Some people may not want to have surgery and yet in this area the film (and Buzzfeed did as well) views the doctors as more medieval in their understanding.
Besides being one of the least visible subsets of our society, there seems to be a place of perceived medical aggression that intersex people have to overcome, for the movie is also about overcoming as well.
The knowledge of her gender identity was not made public to Phoebe by her parents until she was 12. She tells the story of her friends developing into their female bodies while she was left behind, wondering what was wrong. When the revelation finally occurred, it's hard to not assume that its impact would be enormous.
Phoebe appoints herself as the voice of herself. There are moments in which she tiptoes the lines of widespread assumption; but "Orchids" should not be and is not a movie hinging on political correctness. It is rather, an education into something you may not have heard of and a personal battle for appeasement.
Much of it seems constructed on the spot, with little thought put into it; yet its honesty in this fashion is greatly appreciated.
It's exactly what it wanted to be, which is fairly rare for some movies.
Posted by Micah Jones