Review: Touching 'Being Thunder' a Welcome Contribution to Trans Cinema

by Roger Walker-Dack

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday April 1, 2022

'Being Thunder'
'Being Thunder'  (Source:Frameline45)

French filmmaker Stephanie Lamorre's heart-touching documentary on teenage Sherente Misihitasin is another welcome contribution to the burgeoning dialogue about the transgender community. Sherenté is a gender-queer Two-Sprit teenager and a member of the Narragansett Tribal Nation in Rhode Island. This is their story.

Lamorré's discreet camera captures a determined and articulate Sherenté as they strive to follow their passion for traditional shawl dancing and, at the same time, apply for a place at Ivy League Schools. They are blessed with a large, loving, and very supportive family who are keen to incorporate the values and customs of their tribe's history and place in society. That includes Sherenté's journey accepting their two-spirit nature.

So does the whole tribe, in theory, but the reality appears to be that there are factions opposed to them competing at some of the tribal dance pow wows in which Sherenté signs up to participate. It's all done behind their back, and on one such occasion we realize that the outwardly strong-willed Sherenté is still a teen and is not oblivious to such shabby treatment.

In tribal and family gatherings we see Sherenté as a passionate, well-read, and considerate young adult who is full of compassion, with a maturity and sensibility way beyond their age. It's seeing their sheer embracing of life with such joy — a great deal of which is due to their mother's remarkable support and energy — that fills one's heart.

No spoilers here, but if you fail to burst into tears watching Sherenté and her entire family sitting around the computer on the day that all the colleges announce admissions, then there is something wrong with you.

Lamorré shows us an intriguing slice of Native American life and how it fits into contemporary society, but also how Sherenté is proud to be part of it, and to be part of the genderqueer community, as well.

At one point they say "as an Indigenous, Two-Spirit youth, the most controversial act I ever committed was being myself." That may turn out to be an understatement, as it is obvious that this is not the last we have heard of Sherenté

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.