Black transgender director celebrating Arkansas film screening

A short film about a Black trans woman’s journey to her involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement will be screened in Arkansas this week.

“Black Beauty” will show as part of the Kaleidoscope LGBTQ+ Film Festival, hosted by Central Arkansas Pride.

Elle Moxley serves as both the director and the focus of the short documentary, as it follows her coming of age story and highlights her involvement as a former strategic founding partner of the Black Lives Matter movement.

She described the film as a visual diary of her experience as a trans woman who grew up to be an advocate for Black women and trans people who needed support.

“We’ve been on the forefront of so many movements throughout so many times and one thing that is not unique to me is that my story has gotten erased and pushed down,” said Moxley in an interview with KUAR News.

“Black Beauty” is a short documentary about Moxley’s coming of age story and covers her involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement.

She said one motivation for making this film was to highlight the struggles Black women face in general, and to examine how being trans combines with that identity.

“Arkansas is obviously, and maybe not so obvious, it’s a political bed. There’s a lot of happenings in Arkansas politically around the community of trans people and trans children,” said Moxley. “It felt important that when this story was told, that it be told in places that reminded me of what my experience growing up was. Places that were conservative, that were really informed by Christianity and so Arkansas became a centralized place for this film.”

Arkansas passed the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act during the 2021 legislative session. The law bans gender-affirming medical procedures for people under 18. Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the bill, which the legislature eventually overruled.

The law has been on hold due to the American Civil Liberties Union filing a lawsuit against the act. The trial is set to be held in October.

“I think that the reaction [to the film] will be an organized one. That’s one thing that I’ve learned in my own experience is that people will organize themselves against injustice and people will always resist things that dehumanize not only the human experience but the experience that children are able to have,” Moxley said.

She said the short documentary shows her childhood and the things she had to organize for herself in order to create a different reality.

“I think it’s so important for people to understand the power that you have to be a part of a collective effort to transforming society. However, those efforts do not always need to be collective. Sometimes we have the power to do things ourselves,” said Moxley.

The director added, “I trust that there are little Black beauties in Arkansas who can see themselves in the story. And that’s my hope, that this story will reach them somehow.”

“Black Beauty” will screen on Saturday, May 21 at 1:00 p.m. in the Argenta Community Theater in North Little Rock. The Kaleidoscope LGBTQ+ film festival will start on May 19 and last through the weekend.

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