A uniqueand traditionallove story shows how a Midwestern family adapted to a life-altering transformation.
What's it like to have a transgender parentor spouse? How can a family stay together in the face of such significant change? What does a marriage-bound daughter want her father to wear for the traditional trip down the wedding aisle?
Filmmaker Sharon Shattuck answers all these questions in From This Day Forward, a deeply intimate, honest and inspiring feature documentary about her experiences as the daughter of a transgender father and a mother who remain committed to their marriage. The film has its national broadcast premiere on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 at 10 p.m. ( check local listings ) on the PBS series POV ( Point of View ). It will be shown with Eric Rockey's award-winning short film Pink Boy, a portrait of a gender-nonconforming child growing up in conservative rural Florida.
The love story in From This Day Forward is simultaneously unusual and traditional. Sharon tells the story from the beginning, which she marks as the moment her sister found a picture of their dad dressed in women's clothing. When they asked their mother, Marcia, "Why is Dad dressed like Grandma?" they didn't have to wait long for an answer.
"Dad left the room," Sharon says, and a few minutes later, returned dressed in woman's clothing. "I didn't understand what that meant," she recalls, though she would eventually realize that her father, who took on the name Trisha, was identifying as a woman. Several years into her transition, during a morning drive to middle school, Trisha made it clear that she hadn't changed her mind. "Sharon," Trisha said, "whenever you get married I hope that you'll let me wear a dress when I walk you down the aisle."
Trisha recalls early days growing up in Denver "where the air was clear," though she also had a "definite sense that something's not quite right." Yet a courtship with Marcia ensued, along with marriage, a life in Chicago and later Northern Michigan, children and a passionate pursuit of music and art. ( Trisha is a multi-instrumentalist and painter. ) Ultimately, Trisha could no longer conceal her feminine side.
The film includes home videos from Sharon's childhood and times before Trisha's transition, then moves on to Sharon's return to her parents' Midwestern home as she prepares for her own wedding. She is particularly interested in learning how her parents were able to stay together.
The essential ingredient, she discovers, is commitment. While the couple initially decided to separate, they could not go through with a divorce and sought outside help. "There were lots of arguments, tears and therapists," says Marcia. Yet the bond held.
Video from the wedding shows a traditional gathering of family and friends, with bride and fatherand also father and motherspinning across the dance floor. After surprising everyone with an unexpected outfit, Trisha says, "I felt good. It was the happiest day of my life so far."
"Unfortunately there are many stories of transgender people that don't have happy endings," says Sharon. "I think that it's important to hear these painful stories, because they galvanize society to push for change, for an end to discrimination. But I think it's equally important to hear stories of hope within the tapestry of transgender narratives. My wish is that my family's story inspires others to embrace the LGBTQ people in their lives with compassion, respect and love."
About Sharon Shattuck, Director, Producer:
Sharon Shattuck is an Emmy®-nominated filmmaker and animator. She is the co-creator of The New York Times Op-Docs series Animated Life, which tells stories of scientific discovery using stringent journalism and paper puppets. Animated Life: Pangea was nominated for a 2016 Emmy Award. She has animated several award-winning films, including the Emmy-nominated feature The City Dark, which aired on POV in 2012; Love Between the Covers ( 2015 ); The Search for General Tso ( 2014 ); and the short films Truck Farm and The Melungeons. Her video and animation work has appeared in The New York Times, Slate and ProPublica and on PBS and Radiolab. She has degrees in environmental science and journalism. From This Day Forward is Sharon's feature-length directorial debut.
About Marcia Shattuck:
Marcia Shattuck, M.D., is a ( semi-retired ) pathologist who spent 33 years in hospital laboratories and now has time to pursue her passionate interest in health and wellness. She is a devoted mother and spouse who loves to cook, practice yoga and go for long walks and bike rides on the trails in Northern Michigan. She is immensely proud of her daughter Sharon and the wonderful film she created.
About Trisha Shattuck ( www.shattuckart.com ):
Trisha Shattuck spends most days offsetting her carbon footprint, oil painting, pursuing equine endeavors and preparing and eating vegan food. She's skeptical of most screen-related distractions and prefers personal relationships in the here and now. Trisha's major accomplishment was transitioning from male to female while raising daughters and keeping her marriage intact with her spouse, Marcia.
From This Day Forward is a co-production of Project Dad LLC, Fork Films and Artemis Rising Foundation in association with American Documentary | POV.
Credits: Executive Producers: Abigail E. Disney, Regina K. Scully; Producers: Martha Shane, Sharon Shattuck; Director: Sharon Shattuck; Editor: Frederick Shanahan; Co-Producer: Ian Cheney. Running time: 75 min; Total running time ( with Pink Boy ): 86:46.
About Pink Boy:
Pink Boy is an intimate portrait of a young transgender child in rural Florida at the moment of transition. Butch lesbian BJ successfully avoided wearing dresses her entire life. Then she and her partner, Sherrie, adopted Jeffrey, who, to their shock, started to dance in gowns and perform for his parents. As Jeffrey, now 6, increasingly wishes to dress up in public, BJ must navigate where it is safe, from school to a rodeo in Georgia to the ultimate holiday for a "pink boy," Halloween. Since filming ended, Jeffrey now identifies as a girl, Jessie, full-time.
2015 awards: Grand Jury Prize, Shorts Competition, DOC NYC; Best Documentary Short, Palm Springs International ShortFest; Audience Award, Best Short, Nantucket Film Festival.
Pink Boy credits: Director, Editor: Eric Rockey; Camera, Sound: Eric Rockey, Oscar Frasser; Music: T. Griffin; Story Consultants: Deanna Kamiel, Jonathan Oppenheim, Jeremiah Zagar. Running time: 10 min.
About the Filmmaker:
Eric Rockey's work straddles the worlds of technology and film. A Microsoft veteran who now works at tech startup FiftyThree, he graduated from the New School's Documentary Certificate and Media Studies master's programs. His first short, Vulture Culture, premiered at DOC NYC in 2011. He was also the designer and developer for the interactive documentary and Webby Award winner What Killed Kevin? directed by Beverly Peterson, in 2014. Pink Boy is his second short.
Produced by American Documentary, Inc., POV is public television's premier showcase for nonfiction films. Since 1988, POV has been the home for the world's boldest contemporary filmmakers, celebrating intriguing personal stories that spark conversation and inspire action. Always an innovator, POV discovers fresh new voices and creates interactive experiences that shine a light on social issues and elevate the art of storytelling. With our documentary broadcasts, original online programming and dynamic community engagement campaigns, we are committed to supporting films that capture the imagination and present diverse perspectives.
POV films have won 34 Emmy® Awards, 19 George Foster Peabody Awards, 12 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards®, the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award and the Prix Italia. The POV series has been honored with a Special News & Documentary Emmy Award for Excellence in Television Documentary Filmmaking, three IDA Awards for Best Curated Series and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers ( NALIP ) Award for Corporate Commitment to Diversity. In 2013, American Documentary | POV was one of 13 nonprofit organizations around the world to win a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Learn more at www.pbs.org/pov.
Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding comes from Nancy Blachman and David desJardins, Bertha Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, The Fledgling Fund, Marguerite Casey Foundation, Ettinger Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG .