Hotel Berlin, Berlin; Lützowplatz 17, 10785 Berlin
Moving through 24 hours of sweeping emotions in the existence of a singular trans* man to the unfiltered wisdom and self-empowerment of four black trans* sex workers, Directors Vuk Lungulov-Klotz and D. Smith talk us through their bold cinematic statements of artistic and aesthetic expression. Fuelled by their respective critique of a binary world, the importance of self-representation will be explored within this directors exchange.
D. Smith (director, editor, cinematographer, producer) is a two-time Grammy nominated producer, singer, and songwriter and is now making her film debut as a director of the documentary “Kokomo City.” Smith’s father was a world-renowned drummer, and she wrote her first song at 10 years-old for the choir at church in Miami, Florida. From 4th grade through High School, Smith was a visual arts student, winning multiple awards for her eye including winning the statewide NAACP Act So award for photography and the statewide Scholastics Congressional award for drawing and was flown to the Capital in D.C. where her work was displayed. After coming out to her father as a teen, Smith was kicked out her house and was taken in by a church member. After graduating High School, Smith used the last of her money on a one way bus ticket to New York City. She then began singing in the subway where she was first discovered and offered a publishing deal from Sony ATV.As a producer, Smith teamed with songwriter Stacy Barthe and they began placing records with major artists in the music business. Smith produced “Shoot Me Down” for Lil Wayne’s Carter III album which went 8 times platinum and performed with Lil Wayne on Jimmy Kimmel. Smith then signed a major publishing deal with Universal Music. She has produced and written for Cee-lo Green, Estelle, Katy Perry, Andre 3000, Monica, Lloyd, Fantasia, Nipsey Hussle, Ciara, Neyo, and Billy Porter. She has also collaborated with super producers like Timbaland and Marc Ronson. In 2014, Smith decided to walk in her truth and transition into the woman she always knew she was. She was unaware that living in her truth meant that she would have to sacrifice the thing she loved the most, which was making music for a living. People stopped calling. And eventually after running out of money and options, she knew she had to move on from the life she once knew.The silver lining came with the creation of “Kokomo City” which has breathed new life into her. She devoted almost 3 years to it while crashing on different friends’ couches. All the while diving into the lives of four trans women who had a story to tell. Smith was over the moon to receive the call that “Kokomo City” was to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where the film won both the NEXT Innovator and Audience Awards.
Born in 1994 in New York City, USA, Vuk Lungulov-Klotz is a Chilean-Serbian filmmaker raised between Chile, New York, and Serbia. He is an alum of the Sundance Institute Labs, the Tribeca Film Institute, and the Ryan Murphy HALF Initiative Program. As a transgender storyteller, he hopes to expand queer narratives and break down perceived differences. His work focuses on the intimate moments in life we often miss if we’re not looking close enough. Mutt is his debut feature film with its US premiere at Sundance 2023 and its international premiere at Berlinale 2023.
Djamila Grandits is a Vienna based cultural worker, curator and film programmer. As part of CineCollective she’s responsible for the artistic direction and management of Kaleidoskop Film und Freiluft. She is part of the selection committee of DOK Leipzig. Programming for frameout – digital summer screenings and tricky women | tricky realities. Jury at sixpackfilm and member of the non-fiction commission of Zürcher Filmstiftung. Works as moderator and host of various panels, events and interviews. Djamila cares about entanglements and the exploration of collective spaces. She is inquisitive about the intersection and deconstruction of theoretical concepts, artistic-, political- as well as activist forms and expressions.