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VENICE 2013 Venice Days

On the road with Julia


- German photographer and director J.Jackie Baier followed transsexual Julia for ten years, capturing her prostitution life in Berlin

On the road with Julia

“I am not a woman, but neither am I a man. I am a distorted creature. When I was born, God was distracted.” These are Julia Krivickas’ words: a transsexual living in Berlin, where she works as a prostitute. In her country of origin, Lithuania, she was a promising student of the art school. German director J.Jackie Baier met with her for ten years, taking photos and video footage. The resulting product, Julia, is to be presented during Venice Days.

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Julia [+see also:
interview: J. Jackie Baier
film profile
 tells the story of someone who may have had an easier future, but whose sexual identity and its lack of outside acceptance, has brought her down other paths. She starts off by taking money from sailors in her local town of Klaipeda and ends up in the bars and streets of Berlin, selling her body. Julia does this without compromise. She works without any protector. She makes up her own rules and takes on the risks herself. “No risk, no champagne,” she laughs.

Beyond champagne lurk drugs. Baier draws a picture of Julia through her daily haunts (the porn movie theatre she is living in, the streets she walks on, the bars where she meets up with friends and drinks). She shows the degradation in these scenes without censoring anything (when she is shooting up heroine, wen she is in a car with a client). She alternates video footage and photos, which helped sparked her interest years before when Julia used to get stopped in the street and asked what make-up she used. Her tragic smile is always there though, bearing witness to the fact that she is not leading a dream life, even if she did choose it.

The director then follows Julia on a trip to Lithuania where she is confronted with her past. She meets her two former neighbours who hardly recognise her, her art teacher who says she was a top student. She sees her old house and her old room’s windows. Everything seems to have stopped twelve years prior, including people’s reactions to transsexuals. She goes to the cemetery where her grandfather is buried, but ends up escaping from it, feeling she is inadequate. “If you were to see what your nephew had become, you would kill me.”

The complicity between director and main character is what makes the film. They met because they both went to the same bars. They are both transsexuals. For a while, they worked the same job. “Julia reminds me of one of my childhood idols, Jackie Curtis, the transsexual comedian from New York made famous by Andy Warhol,” Baier said. Curtis declared he would organise a revolution on the streets by marching. The same is true for Julia who is fighting to affirm her own choice when it comes to the right to a sexual identity, and who like many others referred to as distorted, fight every day in every single country.  

Julia was produced by J. Jackie Baier in collaboration with Gamma Bak (Germany) and Dagne Vildziunaite (Lithuania), with support from Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg, Beautragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien, The Culture Support Foundation of the Republic of Lithuania and German Films.

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(Translated from Italian)

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