Pearls by Shelley Thompson
Canada (Milwaukee Premiere)
Running Time: 10 minutes
Screening Time: Friday September 7th 6:45pm, JURIED
Don’s mother Miranda realizes her son Donald can only become the woman she is by defying her father and leaving their farm, in an outfit Miranda provides that includes a much-loved heirloom.
An award winning performer, and 12 season veteran of the hit Canadian series Trailer Park Boys, Thompson trained at the UK’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the Canadian Film Centre (2015), and was one of the eight Women In the Director’s Chair - Story & Leadership program (2016/17).
Her work as an actor includes: The National Theatre (UK), Adelphi and Whitehall Theatres, (West End), numerous UK regional theatres, the Shaw Festival, the Neptune, the Globe and more in Canada. Television/film includes Trailer Park Boys (Barb Lahey), six seasons of ITV- UK’s Mike and Angelo (Rita), and the cult film Labyrinth with David Bowie. She’s the recipient of Geminis and ACTRAs for film/TV performances, and Dora and Merritt nominations and awards for her stage work.
Her shift into screenwriting and directing has seen her short films Dawg and Bats included in festivals across North America; she was selected for the Atlantic Film Festival script development program (2016) for her village comedy The Benefit; in April 2017 she received a BravoFact grant for her short films Pearls, a ‘prequel’ to her feature Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor, supported by the Canada Council and recently recommended by the WIDC and selected for Telefilm’s Micro-budget program.
Playwright-in-residence for Eastern Front Theatre, Halifax, NS, (2016/17) she’s developing A Bloody Jubilee, an all-female project for Northern Broadsides Theatre in the UK about the raids on Dieppe in WW2.
Based in Halifax/Dartmouth, Thompson is parent to singer/songwriter T. Thomason, and a champion of LGBTQ issues.
This story came from my experience as the parent of a young trans man who had to leave his home in rural Nova Scotia and move to the city to become the individual they truly are. My son's journey was my journey, and his trials became mine. Although over the last couple years trans rights have been more in the public consciousness, trans people continue to face extraordinary challenges, as do their families. Only in the last weeks has my child finally been acknowledged by the Government of Canada to have the same rights that I do, with the passage of Bill C16 through Canadian Parliament.
Many of the young trans people I met while researching this short and the feature (Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor - a Telefilm MicroBudget planning to shoot in 2018) spoke to the isolation of living in rural communities. I hope this project might help combat that isolation providing points of conversation for trans people and their parents. Like me, Miranda and John Andrew, Don's parents, suffer a kind of bereavement when they 'lose' a child of one gender and have to get to know their differently gendered child. That loss is unique and complex, and families are still learning how to cope with the enormous life changes it can bring.