Los Angeles, CA â€“ This past Thursday night, audience members were exposed to one of the most riveting stories presented at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival,Â Free Cece. Directed and produced by Jac Gares with executive producer LaVerne Cox, Free Cece is a film with power that will surely challenge your beliefs, encourage empathy, and change your mind for a call to action.
Free Cece is a documentary about Cece McDonald, a transgender woman of color, and her fight for survival and justice after she was brutally attacked. Cox interviews Cece as well as a number of other people to break down the situation and delve deeper into the subject. Cece was with her boyfriend and a couple friends walking on their way to a local bar when a dispute broke out between Ceceâ€™s group and another group. Cece was confronted by a woman who smashed a glass in her face, leaving a violent gash on her cheek and chased by a man who pursued to attack Cece. Fortunately, Cece survived the incident using scissors as a self-defense mechanism, leaving the man dead. The night of the incident was a blurred one, but Cece did what she had to do in order to protect her life. Instead of being victimized, Cece was incarcerated with second degree murder for defending herself. Â After Cece pleaded guilty for the incident (which was better than serving decades in jail), she was placed in a male prison, instead of an appropriate female prison.
The incident shifted the course of the rest of her lifeâ€”as well as the lives of thousands of others. Worldwide support from various organizations and the LGBTQ community helped Ceceâ€™s story get told throughout the process of the trials and imprisonment. Cece has become a leader; her bravery and courage to continue fighting for her life is an inspiration for young women to always defend themselves in situations where their life is at risk. The film also details Ceceâ€™s life as an advocate to reform the prison system in order to bring more justice.
Free Cece is not just a documentary, it has become an international movement. Its emotional yet highly educational content demonstrates the importance of addressing transgender issues to the mainstream light. It is especially difficult for transgendered women of color to live peacefully, as statistics show their lives to be at higher risk of facing danger. Finally, thanks to Jac Gares, there is a film that shares the intimate story of a transgender woman of color, and how its story can positively change thousands of other lives.
Watch the trailer here: