Through the Skin

A film by Elliot Montague

US | 2002 | 18 minutes | Color/BW | DVD | Order No. 03811


In this highly personal experimental autobiography, emerging filmmaker Elliot Montague presents a daring meditation on the experience and trauma of growing up androgynous. Incorporating home movies with vintage health public service announcements, along with his own performance pieces, Elliot jarringly discloses the conflicts between his changing female body with that of his gender and sexual identity. Through a montage of images set against a dissonant soundtrack, he speaks about the misunderstandings and tensions his identity struggle caused his family and the depression that later resulted. In scenes where Elliot binds his breasts, he painfully discloses how his parents sent him to a psychologist who diagnosed him with bi-polar disorder – a diagnosis that later proved to be incorrect. Exploring the complexities and implications of feeling androgynous in a female body, THROUGH THE SKIN presents more than a personal testimony on the transgender experience, it provokes universal questions on the meaning of gender.


“…a powerful work… With hypnotic intensity, the film is an assembly of emotionally nuanced landscapes, home movies of Elyse’s childhood, found footage, and peformative self-portraits…a truly remarkable piece that summarily transcends its immediate autobiographical concerns…”

Matt Soar & Bill Brand Film & Photography Dept., Hampshire College

"…required viewing for all courses dealing with adolescence, body politics and queer issues. A complicated, layered, experimental meditation on becoming-feminine, the film explodes conventional vocabularies of cinema and of sexuality, breaking through walls of anger and anxiety. A challenging, exciting film from a fresh new artist."

Amy Villarejo Cinema Studies, Cornell University


  • Women in the Director's Chair, Chicago
  • Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  • European Media Arts Festival, Osnabruck, Germany
  • Turin International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  • Vancouver Underground Film Festival
  • MIX Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, NYC
  • Paris Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  • North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  • Media Arts Festival Friesland
  • Maine International Film Festival
  • Women in Cinema, Walker Art Center
  • Flaming Film Festival, Minneapolis
  • Estrofest, Atlanta
  • WhamBam Trans Artfest


Elliot Montague

Elliot Montague is a transgender fictional narrative and experimental documentary filmmaker. His films explore the nuances of trans and queer narratives through engagement with familial relationships and rural landscapes. Elliot is a twice recipient of the Princess Grace Award. He was the guest director on Rhys Ernst's award-winning documentary series, We've Been Around. Elliot's work has shown at the Media Arts Festival in Osnabruck, Germany, the DOKMA festival in Maribor, Slovenia, the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, the Paris Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival and the Anthology Film Archives in New York, and the Dashanzi Arts Festival in Beijing, China, among others. Elliot teaches film production at both Amherst and Smith Colleges. His film work is partially distributed through Women Make Movies in New York City and Video Data Bank in Chicago. (07/19)


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