Few 2023 features have made a streak comparable to Orlando, My Political Biography, the sole documentary to play in main slates for Telluride, TIFF, and NYFF––after winning the Special Jury, Best Documentary, Tagesspiegel Reader’s Jury, and Special Mention prizes at Berlinale. Paul B. Preciado’s film casts “twenty trans and non-binary individuals in the role of Orlando as they perform interpretations of scenes from [Virginia Woolf’s] novel, weaving into Woolf’s narrative their own stories of identity and transition.” Janus Films and Sideshow will release it in New York on November 10 and LA on November 17, ahead of which there is a trailer.
As Rory O’Connor said in his review, “Enter Paul B. Preciado, the celebrated French author of Testo Junkie and An Apartment on Uranus, and one of the most revered voices in that discourse. Orlando, My Political Biography, Preciado’s new work––and his first behind the camera––is the latest to tackle Woolf’s text and surely one of the most original to do so. It’s structured as both a correspondence—messages from the writer to Woolf—and a series of kaleidoscopic vignettes starring trans and non-binary people. In various ways––deeply heartfelt, often funny, occasionally repetitive but never less than joyous––the performers speak about their relationship with the text through personal experiences while, in voiceover, Preciado distills a life spent grappling with the novel (both as intrepid reader and discerning academic) into a poetic and philosophical treatise, providing a robust foundation for the more earnest emotions onscreen.”
Find the preview below:
“Come, come! I’m sick to death of this particular self. I want another.” Taking Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando: A Biography as its starting point, academic virtuoso turned filmmaker Paul B. Preciado has fashioned the documentary, ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY, as a personal essay, historical analysis, and social manifesto which premiered and took home four prizes at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival. For almost a century, Woolf’s eponymous hero/heroine has inspired readers for their gender fluidity across physical and spiritual metamorphoses over a 300-year lifetime. Preciado casts a diverse cross-section of more than twenty trans and non-binary individuals in the role of Orlando as they perform interpretations of scenes from the novel, weaving into Woolf’s narrative their own stories of identity and transition. Not content to simply update a seminal work, Preciado interrogates the relevance of Orlando in the continuing struggle against anti-trans ideologies and in the fight for global trans rights.