Elliot Page Exec produces Tender Berlin Doc – The Hollywood Reporter
The tender documentary of Nicolò Bassetti In my name relates to research, but not in a trivial way. The four Italian transmasculine subjects, whose experiences of gender transition guide this project, are interested in exploring the constraining boundaries of gender so that they can, with constant ferocity, obliterate them.
“What I’m going to ask you is not to tell me how you found out you were trans or why you were trans when you were a kid,” Leo, one of the protagonists, tells Nico in the opening moments. of the doc. “Because these are good questions for those who think that masculine and feminine are impenetrable boundaries, like the Pillars of Hercules or the force of gravity. None of that interests me.
In my name (Nel Mio Nome)
Tender and poetic.
What Leo and his three close friends, Nico, Andrea and Raff, are most curious about are the striking details. What tastes and smells do the memories of their past evoke? What pleasures do they indulge in? How do they spend the hours of a day, the days of a week, and the weeks of a month? What are they dreaming of? What makes them laugh? To cry? Smile? And what do these details, when collected and put together, reveal about themselves and each other?
In my name is roughly structured around a podcast that Leo records about the lives of his friends. He begins by asking Nico, who according to the press notes is the oldest but newest person in the group, to talk about his upbringing. As Nico recounts parts of his past, the film features footage from the Italian countryside. By initially withholding the photos of the men’s faces, Bassetti brings viewers out of their passivity. Pay attention to the words, the opening sequence seems to scream. Listen to these voices.
The images that Nico evokes are lively and gentle: he grew up in a house isolated from the others but surrounded by a large garden. He enjoyed climbing trees and developed a loving relationship with them. “They were like another parent group to me,” he says at one point.
The idea for this poetic and sincere investigation was born from Bassetti’s personal experiences. Four years ago, the director’s son (assigned female at birth) wrote her a letter announcing that “he had decided to leave the shore of female identity”. The note, delivered overnight, demanded trust and understanding. Supporting her son’s transition inspired Bassetti to make this documentary, which was produced by Elliot Page. When the director presented the idea for the film to his son, the latter only approved if his father did not fit into the story.
The footprints of this meticulous process are everywhere In my name, which paints magnificent portraits of these men while keeping a distance through its cinematography. Andrea is a writer and is working on a collection of short stories. He speaks fondly of his fire engine red typewriter. It has served as her companion over the years, allowing her to document and make sense of her experiences. Raff works as a mechanic in a bicycle repair shop. During the movie, he regularly builds his dream bike. He speaks with precision, and with the same tenderness as Andrea, of the parts of this vehicle, especially when choosing the color. Color, he asserts throughout the document, very much signals a person’s desires and identity to the world. And then there’s Leo, guiding us through each other’s experiences. He is mainly interested in storytelling, documentation, theory and love.
In my name follows the four as they transition, but takes a holistic look at the process. He doesn’t just focus on the medical side of finding out who you are; it also explores the emotional parts. Bassetti mixes warm clips of the four friends reminiscing about their past and dreaming about their future with cold, detached friends who schedule appointments with doctors and undergo in-office evaluations. The effect is haunting, an indictment of society’s distrust of individuals who have, arguably, attained more self-knowledge and awareness than most of us.
Bassetti is visibly cautious while filming the quartet. The camera rarely gets close to their faces and does not engage in any type of voyeurism. It’s an understandable choice for the director who, despite his proximity, still remains a stranger to this experience.
But there are moments – subtle, fleeting – where he adopts a more intimate register, and the doc vibrates with a different energy. In those moments, like when the friends huddle over drinks in a bar, shrouded in the cheap lights of the establishment, or when Leo offers his friends bottles of a peppermint oil concoction to stimulating the growth of facial hair, the film achieves its goal of merging male characteristics. experiences with a larger coming-of-age narrative.
In my name is a feat. To say that this highlights an experience few people understand would only belittle Bassetti’s work and diminish the stories that Nico, Leo, Andrea and Raff share. Their journey isn’t just about lighting up viewers; it’s about them and their own self-discovery.