Transfinite short film review

★★★

Directed by: #NeeluBhuman

Written by: #NeeluBhuman, #DaviaSpain

Starring: #HarmonySantana, #CarmenKMoore

Film review by: Joseph Rodgers

Transfinite is a vibrant and imaginative omnibus of science fiction short films in which transgender and queer characters unlock magical powers for spiritual liberation and empowerment. The results are often surprising and outlandish yet never less than entertaining.


This omnibus consists of 7 short films, all based around transgender and queer characters and connected in the theme of liberation through magic. In the opener, a trans woman (Harmony Santana) spirals in insecurities while waiting for her boyfriend to arrive; the boyfriend (S. Angelo Acevedo), meanwhile, is plagued with anxieties about how to tell his male friend about her identity without being met with transphobia. In another, a trans woman (Davia Spain) meets a politician in a hotel room with a view to enforcing equal rights for marginalised peoples. The supernatural powers gifted to these characters, in these contexts, serve to overcome prejudice, to empower, to bring about change. Some, though, are more impressionistic vignettes in which trans characters harness magic to break down boundaries with others, and with the natural world. The principal magic takes various forms throughout, and manifests via modes such as dance, martial arts, even by cultivating flowers.


Written by a multicultural collective of screenwriters of “various beliefs, sexual orientations and gender identities,” Transfinite is understandably changeable and wide-ranging in its storytelling and characters; from one story to the next, and within each, there is often no telling where things may go. In one tale, for instance, a young girl’s (Aditi Bhuman) dancing triggers another boy to inflict self-harm through smashing his crutches on himself. As the boy’s mum confronts the child’s three parents, who are in a thrupple, the script repeatedly takes unforeseen turns and resolutions. The effect of this unpredictability is mixed. Sometimes, the viewer may be confounded, and many of the stories and characters could be more fleshed out, such as the opening tale, which sadly ends too soon, and another in which a business developer (Bridger Fox) meets a street-campaigner (Carmen K. Moore) for the environment, which feels more like the outline for a story than a fully developed one.


However, the audience will consistently be engaged and intrigued. Fortunately, while the stories are often eccentric, the actors all feel like they are performing within the same eccentric stories, and having a lot of fun with it too. As the credits state, “many participating humans were enveloped with an invisible jolt of happy vibes,” and they hope to hold us “in a similar joyous and stimulating daze”. Certainly, they succeed in doing so, for the lively quality of the performances and the film-making is infectious. Director Neelu Bhuman enhances the vibrancy and inventiveness of the tone through weaving in animations. These boldly coloured sequences expand the film’s imaginative potential, helping to convey Transfinite’s magical transferences of power, its mystical wisdoms, and its deification of the natural world.


The unpredictability of the stories and variety in its characters also suits the film’s ultimate thematic focus, which is the limits of human identity. Transfinite’s artistic intention is to break free of any oppressive borders and structures, as suggested by the film’s opening subheading, “As limitless as nature itself”. Therefore, the film seeks to expand the mind’s horizons, by revealing unexpected sides to its characters and having them bond in subversive ways. Taken in this light, the film’s outlandishness can be perceived in positive terms.


An inventive and empowering series of short films with trans and queer performers, Transfinite will occasionally leave viewers dazed and confounded, but its positive energy is undeniable.