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Black and White
A film by Kirsty MacDonald
New Zealand, 2006, 17 minutes, Color, DVD, English
Order No. W07919
BLACK AND WHITE shines a sensitive light on a subject that is too often either shunned or sensationalized: the experiences of intersex people (sometimes called hermaphrodites). This beautiful and stylish film artfully explores the potent creative collaboration between Mani Bruce Mitchell and the acclaimed photographer Rebecca Swan. Portrayed through this lens, Mitchell’s story introduces viewers to notions of fluid gender identity, challenging the rigid categories of “male” and “female.”

At birth Mitchell was assigned the gender “male” but when investigative surgery subsequently revealed that “he” had ovaries, “Bruce” was renamed “Ruth” and reassigned the gender “female.” BLACK AND WHITE picks up on Mitchell’s story in 2005, weaving together her unflinching yet unexpectedly humorous insights, along with Swan’s descriptions of their creative collaboration on a book about gender identity. Documenting the way Mitchell boldly expresses her own intersex identity through the medium of art, the film challenges the viewer to see Mitchell for who s/he is. Combining intimate, present-day interviews with rich archival slides, photographs and film footage, as well as playful fragments of Super-8 stop-motion animation, BLACK AND WHITE is a stunning tribute to Mitchell’s courage and fierce commitment to change.


DOCNZ - Int’l Doc F F, New Zealand, Best Short Doc
Austin Gay & Lesbian Int’l F F, Best Short Film

  • Monterrey Int'l FF, Official selection, International premiere
  • Reelout FF, Ontario, Canada
  • Planet Gender FF, Maastricht, The Netherlands, World Premiere
  • The Int'l Women's FF, Dortmund, Cologne
  • Int'l Lesbian & Gay FF, Hamburg
  • TLV FEST, Tel Aviv Int'l LGBT FF
  • Athens Int'l Gay and Lesbian FF
  • Outtakes Int'l Gay and Lesbian FF
  • Int'l Festival on Gender and Sexuality, Delhi
  • “Damn These Heels” Lesbian and Gay FF, Salt Lake City
  • Boston Gay and Lesbian FF
  • Turin and Bologne Int'l Lesbian and Gay FF
  • Pink Apple Lesbian and Gay FF, Zurich
  • Melbourne Queer FF
  • Short Fuse Programme, MIC, New Zealand
  • San Diego Women FF
  • Seattle Gay and Lesbian FF

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    “BLACK AND WHITE is a rare and wonderful look into the life of an intersex person, bringing a human face to an issue most people never even think about.”
    Mo Ratel
    The Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

    “Heartfelt and candid…If you seize one voice to articulate the perils and possibilities of the in-between, it ought to be Mitchell’s testimony.”
    Amy Villarejo
    Dir., Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Cornell Univ.

    “An assured and compelling work…manages to combine real insight into a difficult life while retaining a sense of optimism, humor and community.”
    Annie Goldson
    PhD (Trustee DOCNZ Festival)

    “Recommended…Mitchell’s views and theorizing present a truly interesting, evocative, and empirical view on society’s learned binary view [of gender] and how we might reconsider it.”
    Educational Media Reviews Online

    “Three Stars. Recommended.”
    Video Librarian

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    Black and White is included in the following Special Collections.
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