Taking it’s title from Marc Chan’s composition, MY WOUNDED HEAD is an experimental short that investigates issues of representation (and people’s preconceived notions) and reflexivity. Marc’s music, featured in the soundtrack, is itself a reflexive reinterpretation of a set of chorales from Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” (“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”).
Fragmentary and languid monochromatic extreme closeups of a woman making up various parts of her face are choreographed to this hypnotic music. Her makeup as metaphor for her transformation and transition. Her movements convey it is not just about beauty or vanity, there is an element of ritual that is almost liturgical about it; what society expects of her yet also what she expects of herself. Her makeup is simultaneously a salve that covers her bruises / imperfections, and an armor against the scrutiny of the outside world; something that reveals yet conceals her femininity. At the end, the camera finally pulls back to hint/reveal she is a transgender woman.
Thus the title, MY WOUNDED HEAD, refers not only to the music and its liturgical roots, but also to the physicality of her face and features, and her (em)battled psyche. A LGBT-short for non-LGBT audiences, MY WOUNDED HEAD critiques the denigration of LGBT themes in “mainstream” film festivals (and the problematic of demarcation in LGBT-themed ones) as well as the media’s fetish on an idealized (trans) body which denigrates real struggle to wearing pretty barbie dresses.
Casting a recently-transitioned woman in the film both brackets the problematic accolades accorded to non-transgender actors who play transgender roles, as well as bring the trans struggle to the everyday instead of reductive “dramatic” mainstream representations (see TRANS-PIRE). MY WOUNDED HEAD subverts the mainstream trope of transgender makeup as Other by making it instead a device of internal reflection.
RUNNING TIME: 12:48 | COMPLETED: 12/13 | DIRECTOR: STEPHEN CHEN | CAST: SAVANNAH BURTON | DISTRIBUTOR:
Music (excerpt from “MY WOUNDED HEAD 3“) by : MARC CHAN, with ROB HASKINS on piano © Mode Records