Sediments

Sediments is a documentary following a group of women taking a trip into the country. It is Lena’s 25th birthday, and her pals are coming home with her for the celebrations. As they tour the Leon countryside, they discuss their identities, life histories and worldviews.

The person I loved most in this was Cristina, because she’s a pain in the arse. She began her transition in her 50s and is still quite new to everything. She’s desperate to get bottom surgery, as though that is the secret to everything, but she struggles to socialise comfortably with the rest of the group. She feels alienated, and her feelings of difference only cause her to put distance between her and her friends, even as she needs them the most. Her friends as welcoming and constantly try to include her and get her to loosen up. But a lifetime of being on the defensive is hard to unlearn, and she’s still at the beginning of that journey.

The other person I adored was Yolanda, whose big personality sparks with Cristina the most. Yolanda was orphaned and left alone in the world from a young age, and grew up on streets, doing whatever she needed to survive. She did sex work to pay for her transition, but quickly became involved with drugs when the violence of the industry took its toll. Now, having survived HIV, cancer, and speaking through a voice box, she remains the most alive person you ever met. Laughing, dancing, sexy and free, she is great fun to see on screen.

Her relationship with Cristina was the most interesting for me. The whole group are like family as much as friends, and Yolanda’s relationship with Cristina is like two sisters who are opposites, who care about each other as much as they annoy each other.

Cristina is so vulnerable at heart, she presents such a defensive exterior. She starts the film by explicitly giving reasons why she might isolate herself from the group – that she is more at home in nature, that she prefers her own company, that she’s not so much into dancing and carrying on. As someone who is also much happier on my own than in a rowdy club, I identified, but at the same time, you’re like, this isn’t Mardi Gras, there’s 6 of you. Cristina doesn’t know how to let her barriers down, after years of having them up as a survival mechanism.

She’s also getting used to chilling out in a group of women after decades of being socialised as male. She comes off as sexist, and frustrates Tina, who asks her to put more effort into being open to feminist viewpoints. Cristina shuts her down, saying all feminism is is blaming men for everything. Which is exactly the viewpoint you could expect from someone who’s had the life experiences she’s had up until that point. She’s still unlearning a lot, and doesn’t identify that much with the other women who are more comfortable in their skin. She puts this down to surgery or realising they were trans from a young age, but it’s all internal to her, and her journey on accepting herself.

As the group tour the quarries and caves around Leon, with artist Saya snapping photos, you see the long history of the earth laid bare, creating shapes that have been years and years in the making. The women themselves are like that, collections of experiences, one on top of the other, forming a whole.

Really interesting film, focusing on the lives of women of trans experience, from different generations and different backgrounds, and the support and sisterhood of friendship.