Instructions for Survival

Directed by Yana Ugrekhelidze
72 mins

Winner of the Teddy Jury Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, Instructions for Survival is an exquisite and timely documentary portrait featuring outstanding filmmaking craft and a profoundly honest window into one couple’s struggle to live openly.

Through beautiful and intimate camerawork, filmmaker Yana Ugrekhelidze illuminates the shadows where many LGBTQ+ people must still reside within their home countries, centering on Alexander, a transgender man forced to live clandestinely in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. With no way to change the gender on his passport, Alexander is denied access to a proper job and even professional medical care. Despite such obstacles, his secret life is not one of solitude, living with his doting partner of nearly a decade, Marie—a cis woman—and surrounded by a warm, supportive family who have understood and protected him since childhood.

But Alexander’s existence in the margins is untenable. With candor and empathy, Ugrekhelidze follows the couple as they consider seeking asylum in another country—a drastic step that might only be financed if Marie becomes a surrogate mother. In its quietly powerful and deeply humane way, Instructions for Survival captures both the heartbreak and profound joy of ordinary love in extraordinary circumstances.

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