A documentary following the lives of several transgender actors will screen during the upcoming National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem next week.

The film, “In Full Bloom — Transcending Gender,” was directed by Michael Brewer and produced by Jazzmun Nichacala, both with ties to North Carolina. Nichacala has four siblings, parents and other family members in Cary, N.C.

Brewer, who answered a few questions for us in advance of the screening, has family from Hamlet, N.C.

“One summer, I refused to go back to New York, so my parents allowed me to stay in North Carolina for my fourth grade year,” Brewer says. “I also spent a year at Johnson C. Smith University [before] going back north to graduate from Queens College (CUNY). Also, my aunt, Gracie Jackson, is presently running for mayor of Dobbins Heights, N.C.”

According to the film’s creators, the feature-length documentary follows the courageous journey of 13 transgender and two gay actors as they transform their lives through the use of monologue, dialogue and performance art while preparing for the world premiere of the stage play, “Lovely Bouquet of Flowers: An Exploration of Non-Traditional Gender Voices,” by Jazzmun Nichcala and director, David Hays Gaddas.

It will screen Aug. 5, Noon, and Aug. 7, Noon, at Aperture Cinema, 311 W. Fourth St., Winston-Salem. Both Brewer and Nichacala will be on-hand for post-film panel discussions.

Our short Q&A with Brewer below…

Matt Comer: Why was this documentary film important to you? What inspired you to direct it?
Michael Brewer: This documentary was important to me because it gives viewers a glimpse into the lives of a marginalized segment of our society that is not well known or understood. Polls show that only less than two percent of Americans personally know someone of transgender experience. So, it’s our premise that most people get their information about people of transgender experience from the mainstream media, which, in the past, has sensationalized and minimized their stories and their lives.

We chronicled the lives of thirteen transgender and two gay actors as they put together an unprecedented stage play together in Hollywood. I wanted to use medium of film and its distribution potential to share “In Full Bloom…transcending gender” with a large general audience.

As a filmmaker, I set out to make an informative and entertaining film about a serious and timely subject. This is a story about adversity and how people deal with extraordinary challenges. It was important to me to give the cast an opportunity to share their authentic voices – real and unfiltered.

What kind of message do you want audience members to take from the film?
The message is simple — I want viewers to have both a visceral and intellectual connection with the individual cast members and their compelling journeys. Whether you’re a hipster in Los Angeles or New York, a truck driver from the Midwest or you’re from the conservative Bible Belt, I want viewers to come away with an understanding that we are all human and, as such, share many of the same needs, wants and desires.

Are you excited the film will screen during the National Black Theatre Festival?
We are very excited and honored that our film, “In Full Bloom…transcending gender,” has been select to screen at the 2015 National Black Theatre Festival. It’s a fitting coincidence that our film fits the NBTF’s International Colloquium’s theme of “Sexual orientation and Gender Identity in Black Theater and Performance.” Our films cast is a virtual melting pot of ethnicities – African American, Caucasian, Latino and Asian, and its acceptance at the NBTF is significant because, historically, there has been a homophobic attitude within many African American communities. “In Full Bloom…transcending gender,” was a collaborative effort of a multi-cultural production team as diverse as the cast itself.

Learn more about the film at ifbdoc.com. Learn more about the National Black Theatre Festival at nbtf.org.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.