the loop
Night School - January to June 2020 - Image shown with dusk background, white text and white crescent moon.

Night School

Trans Cinema

janvier 30 2020, 6:00 - 9:00 pm

Despite recent attention to representations of trans people in media, media created by trans people is often overlooked. Creating and circulating audiovisual media is a particularly powerful way to create new representations and new worlds. When trans people create audiovisual media, rather than simply being represented in it, they help make these new worlds.

In this session, Dr. Laura Horak (Carleton University) will present a history of trans, Two Spirit, intersex, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming film- and video-making in Canada and United States, from the beginning of cinema to today. We will watch selected short videos by trans and Two Spirit artists and discuss questions such as: What challenges and opportunities does audiovisual media present to trans artists? How have trans-made works spoken back to mainstream representations? How have trans artists used film and video to imagine new worlds? Members of Horak’s research team, Jay Cooper and Oliver Debney, will also present the Transgender Media Portal, which will be a new resource for learning about trans-made films and videos.

Laura Horak

Professor Laura Horak standing in a blue suit. Laura Horak is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Carleton University and Director of the Transgender Media Lab ( and Transgender Media Portal ( She is author of Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressing Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934 (2016) and co-editor of Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (2014), Unwatchable (2019), and a special issue of Somatechnics on trans/cinematic/bodies. Horak is a white cis queer settler scholar who is here to leverage her privilege and institutional resources for the revolution.


Transgender Media Portal 

The Transgender Media Portal aims to make audiovisual work by trans, Two Spirit, nonbinary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people more available to artists, activists, festival programmers, researchers, instructors, and the public.

The Transgender Media Portal wants to: promote the careers of today’s trans filmmakers, call attention to older works so that they can be programmed and preserved, jumpstart research on these films, and provide artists with access to an innovative tradition of work. The TMP are planning to launch a collaborative database of trans filmmakers and their works in Fall 2022. To learn more, go to a vision for the Transgender Media Portal or listen to this short interview about the project. The Transgender Media Portal is based at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

About Night School 

Night School is SAW Video's free, monthly lecture series designed to provide the basic fundamentals of video, film and media art history, theories and current topics of significance. Night School was initiated as a resistance reaction to the OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) funding cuts in 2018. Night School provides an introduction to an art history theme or topic, within a university/college framework and by a university/college professor but without the financial barriers to participate. Many forms and technological approaches are to be found in the media art landscape and Night School wants to demystify them all. Each Night School lecture will include screenings of select work and or listening exercises depending on the lecture topic at hand. 

You are eligible to attend Night School if you are a SAW Video member, artist, creator, arts/cultural worker, looking to experiment in a new discipline, admirer and or advocate for video and media arts. Attendance at every lecture is not necessary but recommended for a well rounded education. 

 [ SAW Video Accessibility Information ]