Orlando, My Political Biography ★★★☆☆ – Edinburgh International Film Festival

2 mins read

Orlando, My Political Biography was the first film chosen for this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival; the moral of this documentary makes it easy to understand why.

This French documentary is inspired by the Virginia Woolf novel Orlando: A Biography. The story follows a man who, over the span of 400 years, transitions. Orlando explores both the world and the limbo of non-binary gender identities before becoming a woman.

Whilst not explicitly about the trans journey as it is known today – as the knowledge and terminology didn’t exist when Woolf wrote the novel in 1928 – the documentary uses the story as an almost religious text for trans identities. 

Orlando on red bed sheets in a red bedroom. Still from Orlando, My Political Biography screened at the EIFF.
Image credit: Les Films du Poisson

How was it?

The film features people from different factions of the gender spectrum. All of them relay that they are playing the role of Orlando. Each of them reads personal experiences and sections from the novel, discussing their connection to the character in relation to their trans identity. 

Conceptually, the film was beautiful. The idea that director, Paul B. Preciado, wanted to write an autobiography about his life but couldn’t because Virginia Woolf had already written his story is entirely fascinating.

However, the execution was a little clumsy. Condensing the film to an hour, or 50 minutes, would’ve made the delivery far more poignant. The story was a little volatile, jumping around in a way that was narratively confusing.

Whilst this mirrors the subject matter, the fluctuation and fluidity of gender and gender evolution, the story doesn’t progress cohesively. This allows room for confusion and a little tediousness, in a film with material deserving of devout attention. 

Aside from that, this documentary is worth watching. The execution does not detract from the importance of the subject matter. Visually, it’s colourful and engaging – there’s a realness to it that has inherent beauty. It’s a fantastic achievement by Preciado and all others involved in its creation.

For more of Brig’s coverage of the Edinburgh International Film Festival visit our website here.

Featured image credit: Les Films du Poisson

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Journalism and English Studies student with an interest in film & tv, music, and politics.
Live on Air3 Thursday 1-2.30
Twitter: @AlexPaterson01

Journalism and English Studies student with an interest in film & tv, music, and politics.
Live on Air3 Thursday 1-2.30
Twitter: @AlexPaterson01

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