directed by Michael Del Monte
Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival, runs April 26-May 6, 2018 at Toronto's Bloor Cinema. Visit the fest's official site for more details.
by Angelo Muredda Bodybuilder and ex-marine Janae Marie Kroczaleski's negotiation of the gender-fraught world of weightlifting after coming out as trans is given a refreshingly straightforward, fly-on-the-wall treatment in Michael Del Monte's Transformer. The story of a world-championship-winning power builder, affectionately nicknamed "Kroc," taking some critical early steps in presenting herself socially and professionally as a woman after a long and successful career in two of the most masculinist professions possible reads on paper like the stuff of an exploitative human-interest story. But Del Monte resists the temptation to amp up the inherent drama of a perfectly well-adjusted and engaging person's life, or to linger, as other woke cis appropriators of trans stories have done, on the metaphorical dimensions of his subject's transformation by fixating on either her past or the moment of transition. Instead, he recruits Janae as a collaborator in her story in the present, allowing her frank voice and the particular issues she faces today--about whether to maintain or tweak her muscular frame through clothes and exercise regimes, for instance, or whether to undergo vocal-cord surgery--to steer him in more fruitful directions.