I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me? A Spotlight on the Papua New Guinean trans community – film review.

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In honour of LGBTQ+ History month 2022, third-year BA Film Studies students are providing a series of weekly reviews that capture this year’s theme of Politics In Art: ‘The Arc Is Long’. This week, Lydia Cooper provides a film review of ‘I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me?’, directed by Tim Wolff.

Films about the transgender community are few and far between and often made without the involvement of, or respect for, the community. Films about trans people outside Europe and the US are even more rare so I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me?, a documentary about the LGBTQ community in Papua New Guinea, is particularly refreshing.

Shot from the film I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me? dir. Tim Wolff, First Run Features, 2020. [Description: an image of a band performing on a stage. There are five band members in total, from left to right there is a keyboard player, guitar player, two singers in the middle and another guitarist. ]

I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me?, centres on the late singer and activist, Moses Moshanty Tau, and the wider LGBTQ+ community in Papua New Guinea. As demonstrated by the statistics at the start of the film, Papua New Guinea is an incredibly dangerous place to be a woman, and trans women are even more at risk of discrimination, homelessness and violence.

Director Tim Wolff intercuts between Moshanty’s music videos, usually shot on beaches, and her discussing her career. The best scenes are when Moshanty and her friends are in the back of a truck going to Hula Village – a more accepting part of the country. These segments are a warm, light-hearted break from some of the more harrowing aspects of the film, as this space acts as a welcoming and accepting one, isolated from the rest of the country.

Moshanty and other members of the LGBTQ community also discuss the discrimination that trans women face in Papua New Guinea and this is highlighted about twenty minutes in, with a trans woman being attacked in the street. It’s not particularly violent but it is uncomfortable and forces you to remember the hostile environment these women are living in. Although Moshanty is respected as an artist she is repeatedly misgendered throughout the film and explicitly referred to as a gay man by her mother, a reminder that even though people are willing to accept some members of the LGBTQ+ community in Papua New Guinea they are still unaccepting of trans people.

I’m Moshanty – Do You Love Me? is not only a great documentary about an artist mostly unknown outside of their home country but also an eye-opening look into the trans community of Papua New Guinea that is equal parts sad, funny and hopeful.

Further Viewing on Kanopy:

Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger(2014) – Dir. Sam Feder

The Journey of Mona Lisa (2019)Dir. Nicole Costa

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