Baltimore film director Tim Wolfer wants to give them a platform.
Them would be transgender immigrants.
“The Right Girls” is a film about trans women escaping harmful and dangerous conditions in Central America and their journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I hope that it really gave them an agency and a voice,” Wolfer said in a telephone interview. “So many people in that situation never get the opportunity. I hope the film gives them a platform.”
Wolfer shot the film in 2018, asking four trans women if he could follow their efforts to reach the United States. What the millennial cisgender straight White male has is a gem of a documentary.
“The Right Girls” will be released Aug. 11 on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. It is an official selection of film festivals in New York, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Seattle and Buenos Aires.
In a telephone interview via an interpreter, one of film’s leading figures, Johana Stefani, said it was crime that forced her to leave her home country of Honduras.
The film begins with Stefani, 29, braided hair and backpack, joining with other trans travelers on the migrant caravan. She said she hopes her journey motivates others to be true to themselves and find happiness.
“It’s hard but worth it in the end,” Stefani said.
A Black trans woman, Stefani’s feminine demeanor and fashion often draws whistles and hollers in the crowd and honks from passing vehicles. Like many on the caravan, getting rides to the next stop was a challenge.
Wolfer’s film captures moments of joy from the women as they are reunited after another day traveling. There is also frustration when officials in Oaxaca, Mexico deny the women a ride; a tumultuous break-up at the border — and much more in this 1-hour and 25 minute film.
Wolfer hasn’t shied away from heated global issues before. In 2010, he documented the evacuations in Haiti and the ethics of international adoptions. Wolfer said he considers Adopting Haiti his best work to date. The 33-year-old director is joined on “The Right Girls'' by producers Siobhan Luikham and Graham Ehlers Sheldon, co-producer Amador “AJ” Jaojoco, writer Jonny Orlansky and composer Zachary Walter.
“I hope this film gives them a lot of agency and power,” said Wolfer. “They are a vulnerable population in so many ways.”
“The Right Girls” also challenged the filmmaker’s journalistic ethics.
“Once there’s imminent danger you aren’t supposed to interfere but at the same time once your humanity sets in, you feel horrible about the situation,” Wolfer said. “I’m glad they made it through. It’s horrible what they went through.”
The film begins with tweets from President Trump condemning the caravan. Stefani is seen circulating in a crowd with Valentyna and Chantal of El Salvador.
“Don’t give up,” Chantel says as the camera cuts to a stream of people climbing aboard trucks with Isac's song "Sparkle" declaring “I’m not where I’m supposed to be.”
The group was part of the estimated 7,200 member migrant caravan walking to the American border.
A drop of water and another drop of water.
I’ll soon be rising.
— "Sparkle" by Maya Isac