Q-Fest Preview: Wariazone & Rites of Passage

The Asia Society Texas partners with Q-Fest to present “Focus on Asia,” two documentary films that examine the notions of gender and identity within Asian cultures.

The presentation begins with Wariazone, a look at the transgender community of Indonesia. Testimonials from activists and sex workers provide insight into the political, moral and practical difficulties of the waria community. Waria (a term coined combining the Indonesian words for woman, wanita, and man, pria) are pushed to the edge of a society that remains one of the largest Muslim populations in the world.

Directors Terje Toomistu and Kiwa also visit the Pesantren Senen – Kamis school, the only Islamic school in the world that caters to transgendered persons. Wariazone will be shown at 3PM this Saturday, July 28th, at the Asia Society Texas Center.

While working toward a PhD in ethnomusicology at UCLA, violinist Jeff Roy chose Maya Jafer as the subject of his feature-length documentary Mohammed to Maya. Jeff followed Maya, a transgender woman, to Bangkok, Thailand, where the 42-year-old would undergo sexual reassignment surgery in order to complete her transition from male to female.

A portion of the footage was compiled to make Rites of Passage, a short version of the film that gives us a glimpse into the psychological and physical difficulties of transition. Maya shares how her faith as a Muslim has brought her through the trials of her life, while trying to come to grips with her family’s lack of acceptance of her true nature. The short film Rites of Passage will be shown following Wariazone at 3PM this Saturday at the Asia Society Texas Center. Both Jeff and Maya will lead a discussion following the screenings.

Rites of Passage is directed by Jeff Roy and features Maya Jafer. 2011, 21 min, color, video. Distributed by the artists.

Wariazone is directed by Terje Toomistu and Kiwa of Estonia. 2011, 50 min, color, video. Distributed by the artists.

[Rites of Passage and Wariazone screen Saturday, July 28th, at 3PM at the Asia Society Texas Center, as part of Q-Fest, the GLBTQ Film Festival of Houston. Special ticket price: $8 general admission, $6 students, seniors, MFAH and Q-Fest members.]

(Asia Society Texas -- http://asiasociety.org/texas; Q-Fest: The 16th Annual Houston GLBTQ International Film Festival -- http://www.q-fest.org/; Jeff Roy -- http://twitter.com/jeffersroy; Maya Jafer -- http://twitter.com/mayajafer; Terje Toomistu -- http://avantourists.com/; Kiwa -- http://www.kiwanoid.com/; Rites of Passage -- http://mohammedtomaya.com/; Wariazone -- http://www.wariazone.com/)

Review by . Review posted Friday, July 27th, 2012. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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