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Markie in Milwaukee

Markie in Milwaukee

A fundamentalist Baptist and one time licensed minister, Markie Wenzel made the decision at age 46 to come out as a transgender woman and start living as female. It was a decision that ended her 20-year marriage and estranged her from her three children. It also saw her dismissed from her church and exiled to the margins of her community.

We meet Markie in 2008 as she is putting the pieces of her life back together, employed as a TSA agent and working toward her goal of sexual reassignment surgery. But over the course of the following decade, Markie begins to question her path. She misses the births of her grandchildren and starts to re-evaluate her faith. She also continually struggles to present herself as feminine at a height of seven-feet tall. It all comes to a head on the eve of her surgery when she makes the sudden decision to abandon her female identity and go back to living as male.

This leads us into a fascinating second half following Markie through her “de-transition”. She literally lays her female identity to rest at the family's cemetery plot, rejoins her former baptist church and tries to rebuild her relationship with her family. It’s a process that creates an unsettling tension, and as the final moments of the film unfold, we are left to wonder if Markie's female identity is gone for good or if it will - inevitably - return.

With over a decade of vérité footage and contemporaneous interviews, filmmaker Matt Kliegman approaches the film with a Diane Arbus-like observational style that is at once intimate and voyeuristic, tragic and hopeful. Markie’s aim is simple - to be a good person, and lead a simple devout life. But her struggles are emblematic of a larger conversation rooted in our country's fixation on identity - political, spiritual and personal - and people’s deep fear of those who don’t fit neatly within their own communities. As we watch we are forced to ask: When those around you won't accept you for who you are, how do you find a way to accept yourself?

"Immersive, surprising and heartbreaking. Impresses with its artfulness and insight as it captures the tormented soul of its subject." —Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

"Moving; intimate... A haunting meditation on the meaning of 'identity.'" Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

"Markie is generous with the camera, and her candor lends the film power. The film doesn’t waste her openness or her willingness to use the documentary as a kind of therapeutic space." —Teo Bugbee, The New York Times

"A fascinating narrative and an amazing film; a window into the souls of all of us." 
William L. Blizek, The Journal of Religion & Film

"You
 see the confusion. You hear the pain. And in the end, you realize you’re not so different from this suffering human being." —Ken Lewis, Ain't it Cool News

"Extraordinary; heartwarming and heartbreaking. Who is Markie? A human being, in all their marvelous complexity." —Christopher Reed, Hammer to Nail

"Intimate, compelling and powerfully ambiguous; follows a former fundamentalist Baptist minister’s midlife mission to live as her true self." Curtis M. Wong, HuffPost

Citation

Main credits

Kliegman, Matt (film director)
Kliegman, Matt (film producer)
Kliegman, Matt (director of photography)
Kliegman, Matt (editor of moving image work)

Other credits

Shot and edited by Matt Kliegman; music by Morgan Z. Whirledge.


Keywords

US History; Family; Religion; Christianity; LGBTQ; transgender; Christian; Evangelical; ; "Markie in Milwaukee"; Icarus Films; Fundamentalism;

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