Image: Sam Berliner

If one of the joys of being human is taking delight in enjoying other humans then A WOMB OF THEIR OWN brings the both humanity and the joy.  Directed by Cyn Lubow, who is also a participant, the film gives voice to masculine identifying people who have chosen to become pregnant.

The production company is Serious Play and while their website does commend the virtues of the film for education in colleges and hospitals, it also recognizes the celebration of “gender diversity with members in your LGBTQ community or organization.”  A perfect screening choice for Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival.

The context is so well explained by Rae, a high school biology teacher. Accessible, succinct … a teacher’s way of presenting information. After a lovely little montage of joyously pregnant people, Rae is personable and expansive and the first few minutes of the film is a very settling watch.  Rae’s partner says it … “I notice walking down the street I do it. Man, woman you know… our brains categorise things.”

From here we can sit back and enjoy the humanity of the six people who form the core of the work.  Morgan is six weeks along. Darcy is 34 weeks. Cyn, the filmmaker, has a 17 and a 20 year old.  AK has a 10 year old and images from AK’s graphic books are used throughout the film.  The children and partners are included also, like Lorenzo’s teenage son who speaks to the camera.

There’s a helpful discussion of pronouns, including the use of words like Boi, trans and various other chosen nomenclature. Attraction is discussed as are beards and boobs, T and pregnancy hormones.   We hear these interesting people speak about  family and developmental growth towards self-knowledge and what their self-perception is.

The film gives voice to the discomfort of binding, references surgery and several people speak openly about whether they feel some gender dysphoria.  There is also a fascinating thematic discussion about pressure on masculine identifying individuals to be either towards the middle of the gender spectrum or, conversely, pushed towards the ends.

But the nitty gritty of A WOMB OF THEIR OWN is the how and why and that is told in an unfussy documentary style with an editing emphasis on positivity and individuality.

The interviews are shot warmly, traditional ‘talking heads’ mostly on sofas in domestic settings… even the director themself in the same style.  The interspersed home footage and stills are evocative and well placed for both information and empathy.   There’s some really cool music, most effectively from Rachel Garlin and the participants have an honesty and willingness to share that is so engaging.  No-one is bolshie about their views, they are articulate, thoughtful, considered and charismatic.

Entertaining and life affirming, A WOMB OF THEIR OWN is a film for everyone.  The variety and richness of human experience is always to be enjoyed with an open heart.

For more information about Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival visit:  http://queerscreen.org.au/mardi-gras-film-festival-2018