Trans filmmaker Lyel Kash’s directorial/writing debut Death and Bowling that is having its world premiere at OUTFEST Film Fest in LA is an extraordinary achievement. Not just because in a groundbreaking move Kash cast all the roles in the movie with transgender actors, but his spiritual drama gives a very personal insight which we assume are in some reflections on his journey.
His story is based around a young trans actor (Will Krisanda) who has named himself X who has been taking in by a bowling league comprised mainly of older lesbians. In fact Susan (Faith Bryan) the very popular Captain has taken him under her maternal wing. When she dies X is left to mourn alongside Susan’s partner and the team.
At the funeral, a mysterious stranger seeks X out to befriend. When they are together later at the Reading of The Will, to everyone’s surprise, the stranger is in fact Alex (Tracy Kowalski) her trans son that no one had heard about previously. Its an even bigger shock to realize why mother and son had become estranged was because that she was unable to accept his transitioning.
Kash slowly makes us realize that Susan embracing X had been her way of making amends for rejecting Alex in the past. When the two men actually get together romantically the older Alex encourages the somewhat inexperienced X to stretch his taste of different sexual intimacies than he had ever done before.
The main theme of this somewhat experimental piece of filmmaking is having a real sense of belonging on many different levels. Kash’s script with its unexpected plot twists is a piece of subtle fine writing which made the film an unexpected joy to watch.
Any film that makes a contribution to the continuing dialogue about the transgender community is always welcome. Especially this one from a new filmmaker who has a very insightful and inspired voice that we cannot wait to see more from.