Orlando, My Political Biography

“The first trans masterpiece.” – B. Ruby Rich, Film Quarterly

Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando” tells the story of a young man who grows up to become a 36-year-old woman. Almost a century after its publication, Paul B. Preciado speaks to Virginia Woolf to tell her that her fictional character has become a reality. The transition of Orlando’s body now lies at the root of all non-binary bodies and there are Orlandos all over the world. Through the authentic voices of other young bodies undergoing metamorphosis, Preciado retraces the stages of his personal transformation through a poetic journey in which life, writing, theory and image merge freely in the search for truth. Every Orlando, he says, is a transgender person who is risking his, her or their life on a daily basis as they find themselves forced to confront government laws, history and psychiatry, as well as traditional notions of the family and the power of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Co-presented by OUTlook and

“Few movies this year have lived in my head as long and as happily…a sharp, witty, low-budget experimental work of great political and personal conviction…a pointed, spirited, up-to-the-minute exploration of sex, gender and sexual difference through the character of Orlando, who serves as Preciado’s mirror and avatar…This is, on the one hand, a movie made by a philosopher who studied with Michel Foucault. At the same time, Preciado’s lightness of touch and intellectual nimbleness buoys the movie, lifting both it and you…Preciado’s superpower in this warm, generous movie is that while he speaks brilliantly to the cages of identity, he sees — and shares — a way out of them…He insists on pleasure, speaks to happiness, invites laughter and opens worlds. Here, joy reigns supreme, and it is exhilarating.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Unfolds the complexity and diversity of trans experiences without ever universalizing—and while having fun.”
– Erika Balsom, Film Comment

“Bracingly intellectual … [Preciado’s] often playful approach to the material means there’s rarely a dull moment in a narrative which presents to us a series of different Orlandos, each articulating their own story alongside that of the literary character… Playful but challenging, moving and meticulous.”
– Amber Wilkinson, Screen Daily

“A kaleidoscopic adventure that dives ruff-deep into Woolf’s literary classic Orlando: A Biography, linking the 1928 gender fluid novel with trans identity, theory, politics and poetics…An unorthodox, delicious adaptation of the book… A beguiling, dazzling gem of a film that manages to live proudly and beautifully in the fuzziness of gender, sexuality, humanity, and art…The result is a perfect merging of political theory, rebellious collective will and radical imagination.”
– Ezra Winton, POV Magazine

1h 38m
Paul B. Preciado
In French with English subtitles
First Showing
November 17, 2023