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Georgie Girl: The Georgina Beyer story on film

Wed 21 Nov 2001 In: Movies

Georgie Girl is the story of a Maori transsexual and former sex-worker, who was voted into the New Zealand Government by a largely white rural electorate. Produced by Anne Goldson and directed by Peter Wells, this filmed documentary received its world premiere in Auckland on Sunday 2 December 2001 as a fundraiser for World AIDS Day. The following introduction to the film is based on production notes supplied by Anne Goldson. On November 27, 1999, Georgina Beyer became one of a crop of first time Members of Parliament sitting in a new Centre-Left government. Georgina, born George Beyer, is reputedly the first transsexual to be elected to national office in the world. Of Maori descent, Georgina has had a remarkable life, following a unique bi-cultural trajectory. Georgie Girl follows Georgina's personal path from a farm in Taranaki, through the streets and nightclubs of Wellington and Auckland, to the highest offices of power in New Zealand, from boy to transvestite to woman. But it also asks serious questions about New Zealand and in particular, its rural communities. The deep affection so many of her rural constituents feel for Georgina, is an indication of her remarkable abilities. But also it suggests that "naturally conversative" communities -- often perceived as averse to the gains of Maori, let alone gay and transgendered communites -- are in fact very accepting. Georgina performed in cabaret, drama, theatre and television for over a decade and there is a rich source of archive material we were able to draw upon. Eschewing narration, Georgie Girl uses the main character herself to tell her own story. She is a charismatic and spontaneous speaker known for her oratory in and out of Parliament. She relates her colourful life story with humour, wryness and at times, sorrow. Supplementing her recollections are interviews with the wide range of people she has known through her life: including Carmen, the infamous proprietor of Carmen's International Coffee Lounge and The Balcony; prime Minister Helen Clark; and Georgina's friends and constituents in the towns of Carterton and Masterton. Intercut into the life story are scenes from a day-in-the-life of Georgina Beyer MP, which reflect her multiple identity as a regional politician, Maori and transgendered person. She appears comfortable judging sheep races, attending the Ratana Church to discuss Government policy, and leading the HERO parade on a waka-shaped float... a bewilderingly diverse range of duties. But the stresses and demands on her also take their toll, as the documentary describes. As well as outlining an extraordinary story, Georgie Girl's heart in rural New Zealand shows what an unusual people we actually are. Production notes: Producer/Director Annie Goldson is an accomplished producer/director whose most recent documentary Punitive Damage, premiered at Hotdocs, and showed theatrically in the US, Australia and New Zealand. Director Peter Wells is New Zealand's preeminent gay novelist, writer and filmmaker. He was director, along with Stewart Main, of Desperate Remedies as well as a series of critically acclaimed shorts including Jewel's Darl, My First Suit, The Mighty Civic and Little Queen. He has published two collections of short stories, a novel and many non-fiction essays. One of his novellas formed the basis to the award winning feature-film by New Zealander Niki Caro, Memory and Desire. - 21st November 2001    


First published: Wednesday, 21st November 2001 - 12:00pm

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