The Youth and Gender Media Project

Directed by Jonathan Skurnik

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The world premiere of Becoming Johanna, a film almost 7-years in the making, will screen on June 19th at 1pm at the Frameline Film festival in San Francisco!

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.The Youth and Gender Media Project encompasses a growing collection of short films that capture the diversity and complexity of gender non-conforming youth.

In The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children family members relate their transformations from denial to acceptance and finally to celebration around supporting and nurturing their courageous children.

I’m Just Anneke tells the story of a gender fluid twelve–year–old girl who’s taking hormone blockers that delay puberty so she can decide if she wants to be male, female, or somewhere in–between, when she grows up.

Becoming Johanna tells the story of a sixteen–year–old Latina transgender teenager living in Los Angeles who is taken into foster care when her religious, immigrant mother refuses to accept her transition to a young woman.

Creating Safe Schools profiles a public elementary school that trains their entire school community—students, teachers, parents and staff—about inclusivity for gender nonconforming students and their families.

The films introduce radical new concepts for many audiences, from the very idea that a young child can be transgender and have the wherewithal to fight against the pressures to conform to a binary gender paradigm, to the new and still very rare use of hormone blockers to delay puberty. However, since the films are structured around universal themes such as parenting and acceptance, identity and difference, growing up and coming of age, tolerance, love and self-esteem, they remain accessible and deeply moving even to people who are resistant to the idea of transgender youth.

In collaboration with our outreach partner Gender Spectrum and several other non-profits dedicated to creating safe and inclusive classrooms for gender nonconforming youth, the films are being used to educate teachers, administrators, parents and students in school communities across the United States.

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Jonathan Skurnik is a documentary producer, director and cinematographer who has worked in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South and North America. Four of his films have broadcast on PBS and European Television. His films have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center and in art galleries in New York City and at over one hundred film festivals throughout the world. Jonathan’s films have been supported by ITVS, Vision Maker Media, the MacArthur Foundation, the Fledgling Fund, the Paul Robeson Fund and many other foundations. His documentaries have won numerous awards, including Best Documentary at the American Indian film festival, the Change Maker Award at the Media That Matters Film Festival, the Audience Award for best documentary at Outfest, the Harry Chapin Media Award for films about poverty and Best Documentary Award at the UrbanTV film Festival.

In addition to his documentary work, Jonathan founded the Workfare Media Initiative, The Youth and Gender Media Project and The Cante Sica Foundation, three foundation-funded grassroots outreach and engagement projects that provide transformational educational experiences through facilitated screenings and discussions and immersive digital resources on handheld devices and the web.

Jonathan has also led workshops and master classes in theory and production for filmmakers in the US and China and teaches broadcast investigative journalism at Chapman University and students in the Masters of Documentary Filmmaking program at the New York Film Academy. He has also written and directed a narrative feature and several short narrative films. In his spare time, he paints and makes sculptures and installations.