“Golden Voice” is a short documentary about a community of Cambodian transgender men and lesbian women who survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime together in their twenties. The central protagonist is Noy Sitha, a transgender activist nicknamed the “man with the golden voice” after his beautiful singing voice. On the 40th anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Sitha returns to the village of his women’s work camp for the first time since he escaped. The grueling, genocidal world of 1975-79 Cambodia is hardly where one would imagine hearing stories of queer love and friendship; yet remarkably, this documentary centers on a women’s work cooperative which was home to several young transgender men and lesbian women, all of whom became lifelong friends and even lovers. Shifting between the past, present, and future, this film meditates on how pain and love linger through the years, and how the wisdom of queer elders might provide hope and healing for generations to come.
Directed by Mars Verrone
Produced by Mars Verrone and Tabitha Payne
Director’s Bio: Mars Verrone is a filmmaker from Los Angeles, CA, now based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2019, they graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with honors in Modern Culture and Media (Production) and Phi Beta Kappa membership. They are producing two feature films about the historic organizing efforts in the contemporary labor movement. They are a 2022 NBC Original Voices Fellow, PGA Create Fellow, and Brown Girls Doc Mafia Sustainable Artist Fellow and their work has been supported by Sundance Institute, Ford Foundation, the International Documentary Association, and Field of Vision.
Over the years, we have watched the struggle for trans liberation make immense strides. Outdated ideas about gender have been torn down by people fighting to be recognized for who they are. That struggle has also met with devastating setbacks in recent years in the form of reactionary legislation and inflammatory public discourse – including provocations to violence. Despite everything, trans people will persevere and find moments of joy and solace in community. These documentaries follow such individuals as they experience hardship, heal from trauma, and celebrate life – all with the knowledge that there is no option but for the world to change.