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TIFF 2020: “No Ordinary Man”


Rating: 4 out of 5.

The world has not been kind to the LGBTQ community. It was not then and it is not much now. Hence, most of them hide their true self from the people around them to not be judged, or worse. This is why some have to use tricks to remain what their heart and soul dictates them.

From directors Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt, “No Ordinary Man” follows a well-known jazz musician Billy Tipton who became famous back in the 1940s and 50s. But knowing that as a woman he would not be able to succeed in his field, he dresses up like a man until the day of his death. For many years, he was able to successfully impersonate a man at a time when trans representation was not known at all. As the film explores his life through the casting process captured in the documentary, many perspectives are offered towards one persona which you will find impressive and rich at the same time.

The title “No Ordinary Man” well justifies the concept of the documentary, telling the story of an extraordinary artist, Billy Tipton, who had to use his imagination and do everything possible to stay who he wanted to be in an unjust and unkind world. It is clever, funny at times and informative enough to start doing your own digging. As for the takeaway, what this story reminds us is that it does not matter what rules are set in society. If there is something we want to be done, all means are justifiable, as long as it does not hurt anyone and the right thing is done to pursue a dream. And that alone is something worthwhile living and dying for multiple times.

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