“Sidney and Friends” a documentary delving into Kenya’s transgender community as never seen before. They live in the shadows disowned by family and disconnected from community, in a constant struggle for survival yet remain amazing in their love of life and one another.
The making of Sidney and Friends fortuitous, to say the least. Filmmaker Tristan MG Aitchison, from the northern highlands of Scotland, felt compelled to travel to Kenya where he was sure a story awaited but had no idea what it was. This is where he found the first of many of Sidney’s friends in Kenya, arguably one of the most transphobic places on earth.
This video is from the original kick Starter which is now completed. I shared it to give you an idea of how avant-garde this film truly is. I also shared it to introduce you to some of Sidney’s friends that you might not have otherwise met.
“I didn’t set out to make this film when I traveled to Kenya in 2013, but by chance, I met someone… Guillit, a transboy who wanted to be heard…” said Aitchison “I was welcomed into the small community where other filmmakers and journalists had been refused access.” He said
“Some interviews were incredibly difficult. Our contributors have suffered traumatic life events and there were a number of times I had chills at what I was being told. Sidney recalls one occasion he was being beaten by a group with clubs and sticks while his mother just stood and watched.
‘He also told me about an incident where he was beaten, stripped, and left for dead in the street by a gang. A kind doctor paid for a motorcycle taxi to take him home. When the driver dropped him off, Sidney’s father turned to the driver and said, ‘If she(sic) is not dead, take her(sic) away, because I have already started digging her(sic) grave.’ Aitchison said.
His family say he is possessed by demons, demons that make him want to become a man. When Sidney fled from his family’s prejudice, he was forced from slum to slum, stripped in public and beaten. His life changed when he eventually met a group of transgender friends. For the first time in his life, Sidney was no longer alone.
Following its World Premiere at the prestigious BFI Flare: London’s LGBTQ+ Festival (on March 22, 2018), feature documentary SIDNEY & FRIENDS went on a two-year-long international film festival tour. Directed by Tristan Aitchison (the writer/director behind the award-winning 2014 short film, CARE), SIDNEY & FRIENDS, shot entirely in Kenya, has been called “one of the most impacting and breathtaking reflections of intersex and trans life.”
SIDNEY & FRIENDS tells the story of Sidney, who is intersex. When his family tries to kill him, Sidney flees to Nairobi, where he meets a group of transgender friends. Together, they fight discrimination and discover life, love and self-worth. SIDNEY & FRIENDS’ award wins include: the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at NewFest: New York’s LGBTQ Film Festival (presented by HBO); Best Documentary at the Transgender Film Festival in Germany; Best Film at the Madrid Film and Human Rights Festival; and Best Documentary at the OMOVIES Film Festival in Italy.
Additionally, SIDNEY & FRIENDS’ award nominations for Best Documentary include: the United Nation’s IOM Global Migration Film Festival; the Lili Award at MIX Copenhagen LGBTQ+ Film Festival; Sole Luna Doc Film Festival in Italy; TWIST Seattle Queer Film Festival; and a Best Film Score nomination at New York’s Independent Music Awards.
SIDNEY & FRIENDS is now available on Amazon Prime Video. Its original soundtrack, by composer Paul Terry, is out now on all music platforms.