Documentary Ethics and Trans Activism in the Philippines (with Curran Nault)

In this week’s episode, guest Curran Nault discusses his article “Documenting the Dead: Call Her Ganda and the Trans Activist Afterlife of Jennifer Laude,” which analyzes the production and circulation of the documentary that Nault co-produced about the murder of transpinay Jennifer Laude by a US marine. Informed by his roles as both producer and media scholar, Nault raises critical questions about the aesthetics and ethics of re-presenting trans death and, ultimately, reflects on the possibilities and limitations of documentary as a trans activist tool.

“The documentary itself isn’t the activism. It shouldn’t be the conclusion or the end point. Like, “Oh, I’ve made a documentary. I’ve raised some awareness. My job is done.” It’s really the beginning. What you do with that documentary and what you do afterwards is the real activist project or the important part in a lot of ways.”

Episode Transcript (opens as PDF)

Show Notes

06:00 introduction to Virginia “Virgie” Suarez and Julita Laude

09:30 short overview of U.S. imperialism in the Philippines

10:15 an explainer on the Visiting Forces Agreement

11:00 news update on President Duterte pardoning in 2020 the U.S. marine that killed Jennifer Laude

14:00 a report on the over 350 murders of trans women of color around the world

15:15 more information about GANDA, Gender and Development Advocates for the Filipinos in the Philippines

17:00 Die Beautiful (2016) directed by Jun Lana

19:30 Necropolitics by Achille Mbembe

26:00 Specters of Marx by Jacques Derrida

33:15 the call to action to donate to the Laude family

36:00 homepage of Gabriela USA, the overseas chapter of the Philippine-based organization advocating for the liberation of Filipino women

37:30 Queercore: Queer Punk Media Subculture by Curran Nault

About the Guest

Curran Nault is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, and a faculty affiliate of LGBTQ+ Studies and the Center for Asian American Studies. They are the author of Queercore: Queer Punk Media Subculture(Routledge, 2018), and their scholarship on grassroots trans*media subcultures has been published in such journals as Jump CutTransgender Studies Quarterly, The NeoAmericanistFeminist Media Studies and the Journal of Film and Video, as well as such anthologies as Queer Love in Film and Television, The Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock, and The Oxford Handbook of Queer Cinema. A public-facing scholar, Curran is the Founder/Artistic Director of queer trans* media festival, OUTsider; Co-Producer of the documentaries Before You Know It (PJ Raval, 2013) and Call Her Ganda (PJ Raval, 2018); and Co-Founder of the Austin Asian American Film Festival.