A technical achievement? A first for transgender representation? It makes sense that Tangerine managed to last multiple reshuffles of the list and will likely stick around until the finish publishing. I mean, not only was this shot completely using iPhones, but this also marked the first time that transgender actresses were submitted to the Oscars for consideration.
If you didn’t know that Tangerine was completely shot on iPhones with special filters from Kickstarter, then you would not be able to tell. The colours are beautifully washed out at times and the way they have had to adapt to using phones helps to give it a really kinetic energy.
This energy is matched completely by actresses Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, the latter of whom I would love to see in as her character in a sequel film. They are both prostitutes working the streets of Los Angeles, with Rodriguez’s character having just left prison for drug possession and is now on a mission to find the cis-woman that her fiancee slept with whilst she did time for him.
The beats in Tangerine are very much a classic comedy-drama film where the more usual setting is swapped out for prostitutes, johns and drugs. The conclusion in the donut shop where all the characters are confronted with their secrets, as the poor clerk looks on just hoping for the drama to end soon, really cements how much you have started to care for these characters. Be they a prostitute who has just beaten a woman up before smoking meth with her or an Armenian taxi driver who is having his fetish aired out to his wife by his mother in law.
Films like Tangerine are so important and I am so glad that it made it onto the 1001 list. Watching this so close to The Crying Game shows how representation has changed for transgender characters – in that we now have films where these characters are actually being played by transgender actresses. Sure we’re not there yet considering The Danish Girl was released in the same year as Tangerine… but we are getting there. Slowly.