Woman on Fire

Director: Julie Sokolow
2016 | USA | 85m
GENRE: Activism | Biography/History | Documentary | Gay | Gender | Male-to-Female | Military | Parenting/Family | Politics | Queer | Relationships | Transgender
SECTION: Documentary
Expected Guests: Director, Julie Sokolow & Subjects, Brooke Guinan & Jim Baker

Meet Brooke Guinan, a Long Island–born, third generation FDNY firefighter who happens to be transgender. Embracing her authentic self while being a part of “New York’s Bravest” —in the city, women make up less than one percent of the force—brings an extra set of challenges for New York City’s first trans firefighter.

Among the folks that Brooke chooses as her role models? “Tough women who can kick ass and take names,” she says. The camera follows Brooke from LGBT rally to firehouse to her New Jersey home as she works to “create the woman I want to be.” Home footage highlights a conventional suburban childhood, complete with American flags and parties at the firehouse, while Brooke recounts her efforts to feel comfortable in her own skin against an all-too-familiar hybrid of bullying at school and incomprehension at home. Brooke’s parents, mixing expressions of support with unsparingly honest accounts of their initial dismay, give further insight into her life. In another narrative thread, Brooke and her boyfriend, Jim, move toward a deeper commitment as Brooke meets Jim’s parents for the first time.

Woman on Fire investigates the interwoven dynamics of two families, the Guinans and the FDNY; at its heart is Brooke’s battle for self-determination and acceptance by both. As Brooke embraces her new role championing coalition building and diversity, it is clear this confident woman is not only following the family tradition, but also claiming it as her very own.

This film is a recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund grant.

— MONICA NOLAN

CO-PRESENTED BY
SF ResQ / United Fire Service Women