Saturday Church

Bill I’s Rating – 3.5 out of 5

This film’s plot has nothing we haven’t seen. The drag queens and transgender women of color competing in glamorous runway and dance contests, facing horrible discrimination (Paris is Burning), the bullying of teenagers questioning their gender (Boys Don’t Cry, others I can’t recall), the treatment of gay and transgender people in the inner city. But this film, based on a real life center for homeless and poor trans and gay people of color in NYC, (held at a church on Saturdays), filled with inexperienced actors including several with zero acting experience (the writer/director was intent on being as true to life as possible by casting transgender women in key roles), is as emotionally genuine as possible. The lead character, Ulysses, played amazingly well by Luka Kain, is 14 years old, clearly not fitting in with his basketball teammates, trying on his single mother’s stockings in secret, is just trying to get by while figuring out just who he is. But after his dad dies and his Aunt Rose (a terrifying Regina Taylor) moves in to help watch Ulysses and his younger brother while his mom (beautiful Margot Bingham) works two jobs, he faces a daily threat from his aunt’s brutal method of religious strictness. Ulysses finds support and mentoring from a disparate group of older trans women (and one cute young man) down by the Christopher Street Piers and the welcoming haven of the Saturday Church. Ulysses is able to come into his own, while navigating some horrific experiences. A heartwarming Hollywood ending for this low budget independent film.

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