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Orchids: My Intersex Adventure
A film by Phoebe Hart
Australia, 2010, 60 minutes, Color, DVD, English
Order No. W111031
Gen X filmmaker Phoebe Hart always knew she was different growing up – but she didn’t know why. This award-winning documentary traces Phoebe’s voyage of self-discovery as an intersex person, a group of conditions formerly termed hermaphroditism. Learning only in her teens that she was born with 46XY (male) chromosomes, Hart now seeks to understand her own story and the stories of others affected by this complex and often shameful syndrome.

With help from sister Bonnie (born with the same condition) and support from partner James, Hart drives across Australia, interviewing individuals whose struggles and victories mirror and differ from her own. Some advocate systemic change ending shame and controversial genital surgeries, while others debate coming out or staying closeted with a stigmatized secret. Questioning rigidly defined constructs of gender, sexuality, and normality, often with lively good humor, ORCHIDS is the first film to look at intersex from a positive perspective. Its engaging portrait of survival, courage and reconciliation will speak to a variety of audiences and spark lively discussion about what it means to be perceived as "different."


Australian Directors Guild Awards, Best Direction in a Documentary (Stand Alone)
Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts Awards, Best Documentary Under 1 Hour
Honolulu Film Festival, Winner, Gold Kahuna Award
Brisbane International Film Festival, Best Documentary
Australian Teachers of Media’s ATOM Award, Best Documentary
Chéries-Chéris Film Festival, France, Prix Spécial du Jury du Film Documentaire
MujerDoc International Festival of Documentary Cinema on Gender, Spain, Best Short Documentary
TranScreen Amsterdam, Audience Choice Awards (Runner Up)

  • Frameline, San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival 2011
  • OUTFEST: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  • Newfest: The New York LGBT Film Festival
  • Milwaukee LGBT Film Festival
  • Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Sarasota Film Festival
  • Michigan Womyns Music Festival
  • Boston LGBT Film Festival
  • Sarasota Film Festival

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    "With playful yet searing honesty, Phoebe Hart’s autobiographical account of self-discovery offers an object lesson in the harms created by silence... This film could effectively be used in psychology, women’s studies, and/or sexuality courses to challenge sex and gender binaries, [and] make visible the variations between female and male..." -
    Clara Golden, Ithaca College
    "The Courage of Conversation"

    "Winner of the Australian Teachers of Media's ATOM Award for best documentary, Hart's work took years to complete and makes for compelling viewing. It blends a history of her condition with her own experience and stories from other intersex people she seeks out to help her understand."
    Katherine Feeney
    Brisbane Times

    "Personally I could not imagine a better film ever being made on coming to terms with a condition like AIS. It's wildly funny in parts but at the same time it's very intimate and deeply moving. I can't stop thinking about it."
    Professor Garry Warne
    AM, Senior Endocrinologist, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne

    “The film balances personal stories with a brief introduction to the biology of intersex syndromes and provides scientific as well as demographic context… Statistics like these make the case for adding Orchids to any library collection, but it is a particularly welcome addition to gender studies collections…”
    Educational Media Reviews Online

    “…Orchids settles into an exploration of the ways that many intersex people are made to feel – wrongly – that a ‘normal’ life is a contentment they can never achieve.”
    Bitch Magazine

    "The filmmaker's warmth and candor provide an engaging perspective on intersex identity and one family's changing attitude toward their 'secret.'"
    Patricia White
    Film and Media Studies, Swarthmore College

    "The road trip at the heart of the documentary serves as a metaphor for moving from secrecy and shame to openness and acceptance…In the process, Hart’s film not only paints a compassionate portrait of people coming to terms with intersex, but crucially also interrogates rigidly defined constructs of gender, sexuality, and normality."
    Films for the Feminist Classroom

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    Orchids: My Intersex Adventure is included in the following Special Collections.
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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us