The third upcoming short film from actor & filmmaker Nike Uche Kadri, Pink & Blue portrays a loving, healthy relationship between a trans woman of color and a cis lesbian woman of color. The screenplay won Best Short Screenplay of the LGBT Toronto Film Festival. This film is vital for our community because it depicts trans folk of color as fully-fledged human beings, rather than just victims of violence. It stars a cast of lesbian, genderqueer, trans, nonbinary, and cis actors of color. I spoke to Nike about the important work this film is doing to bring QTPOC to the forefront.
Your site says your film passes both the Bechdel and Ava DuVernay tests which demand that women and people of color have autonomy from cis male or white characters. Can you tell us more about these tests and why they're important?
These tests are about accountability. Holding filmmakers, studios, and networks accountable for the decades of systemic disenfranchisement and discrimination against anyone who was not a cis heterosexual white male both on screen and behind the scenes. As we know, that lack of accountability allowed for racism, misogyny, gratuitous violence against womxn, homophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of dangerous toxicity to fester on screen. These tests provide a rubric and formula for all filmmakers to KNOW that inclusive work is possible and to encourage the creation of inclusive work.
You also mention that the film is dismantling toxic masculinity. Can you share more about how you're doing this?
I think it would be nice to define toxic masculinity here and now. According to The New York Times "toxic masculinity" is, "...a set of behaviors and beliefs that include the following: Suppressing emotions or masking distress, Maintaining an appearance of hardness, [and] Violence as an indicator of power (think: ‘tough-guy’ behavior). In other words: Toxic masculinity is what can come of teaching boys that they can’t express emotion openly; that they have to be ‘tough all the time;’ that anything other than that makes them ‘feminine’ or weak."
So, my film Pink & Blue acknowledges that imbuing toxic masculinity in children can occur even before a child is born. TM begins with thought, societal pressure, and of course the manufacturing industry makes more money when we buy clothing and toys according to the binary. It starts with a parent or guardian making a decision before their child has the vocabulary or wherewithal to make it for themselves. If we leave things OPEN then it allows room for kids to just be kids! That's the answer in the end: pink and blue are just colors and kids are just kids.
How do you plan to use fashion in the film to enhance the story?
I am REALLY EXCITED by gender neutral clothing companies like Stuzo, Nik Kacy, Phluid Project, Wildfang, and the app Rigit.co (to name a few) and slightly perturbed by binary children's clothing. Clothes have no gender. Pink & Blue toys with dramatizing the clothing/gender binary. I want to play with the visualization of gender fluidity with the main/adult characters and juxtapose that with the clothes they attempt to choose for their unborn child.
In a time of gender reveal parties and hate crimes involving gendered bathrooms or bullying boys who like nail polish, I hope my film will hold a mirror up to society: increase empathy and educate people about the binary and those who live and love beyond it.It was like clothing manufacturers were saying there is a short window when a baby is just a baby but after that, they MUST choose to express their sex within the constraints of the binary.
I hope my film will hold a mirror up to society: increase empathy and educate people about the binary and those who live and love beyond it.
How does clothing foster a dialogue about gender expectations in the film?
The main action of Pink & Blue takes place in a children's clothing boutique in Manhattan. I used to work in retail and my film is loosely modeled off of my experience working in the kids section. I noticed that most clothes for a baby 0-3 months were pretty standard onesie styles but as the clothing age range increased, more emblems and frills and pinks and blues came into play. It was like clothing manufacturers were saying there is a short window when a baby is just a baby but after that, they MUST choose to express their sex within the constraints of the binary.
So, Pink & Blue is both a reflection of that experience and a rebellion against it. I am offering VISUALS as of another way of approaching and understanding the binary and the non-binary. These visuals of kids clothing and the purchase of it, creates and exposes opportunities for dialogue.
If a parent wants to raise their children to not adhere to the gender binary, what tips do you have?
I would advise them to support gender neutral clothing companies. Patronize them, talk to the owners and fellow shoppers. Get to know people from the GNC community. Become an ally and the manufacturers may just follow suit. Oh and watch my movie Pink & Blue in 2020 ;-)