Inspired by Ronald M. Schernikau’s German novel “so schön”, So Pretty marks the feature debut of trans filmmaker Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli. It frankly depicts the lives of four queer youths in Trump-era New York City, struggling to maintain their proto-utopian community against the outside world, in the process unapologetically documenting the reality of a marginalized community living in a racist, homophobic, and transphobic society. Shot in Brooklyn clubs and apartments by music video director Bill Kirstein (Beyonce’s Life is But a Dream) and featuring a diverse cast of trans and queer relationships, the film recalls the vivid, atmospheric imagery of photographer Larry Clark’s earlier work documenting NYC youth.
A German visual artist, Tonia, comes to New York City in 2017, where she meets her American boyfriend, the academic Franz, and works on a new exhibition. Tonia and Franz talk politics, art, and love, go dancing, drink coffee, fuck, protest, and organize alongside their friends, the couple Paul and Erika, a transwoman and musician. When Paul becomes injured by the police following a political action, their social space is momentarily shattered.
An investigation of leftist politics and femme identity in the context of an increasingly right wing world, So Pretty moves freely between fictional depiction and semi- documentary, adaptation and translation, looking towards the artistic and personal worlds its characters generate across time and culture as a space for new tensions and potentials.
So Pretty is a cinematic feast, an incisive capstone to a long tradition of avant-garde and queer and trans cinema.