Black and White

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"Oh my God! It’s a hermaphrodite!" screams the nurse, moments after Mani Bruce Mitchell is born into the hands of a doctor in a small New Zealand hospital in 1953. Fifty years later, the short documentary BLACK AND WHITE interweaves the stories of intersex activist Mani Bruce Mitchell and acclaimed photographer Rebecca Swan, exploring their powerful creative collaboration. Intimate present-day interviews and actuality are interspersed with archival slides, photographs, and playful fragments of Super-8 stop-motion animation, concluding with actuality footage framed by the epic grandeur of Wellington’s rugged southern coast. Focusing first on Mani’s extraordinary childhood, and then on the story of Mani and Rebecca’s photographic collaboration, this documentary poses a challenge to notions of masculinity and femininity as rigid categories. As in Swan’s still images, Mani defies the categories of male and female and boldly proclaims her own intersex identity. Mani stares back at the camera, no longer the powerless “freak” of the hospital lecture theatre photographs and displays of her childhood, but challenging the viewer to see her for who s/he is – simply different.

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