Chicago House Transreelization screens 'Free CeCe!', Nov. 5th

Sun. October 30, 2016 12:11 PM by Anthony Morgano

Chicago, IL - Don't miss the third annual TransReelization film benefit this Saturday, Nov. 5, where the Chicago House TransLife Center Advisory Board is screening FREE CeCe!, a new film by director and producer Jacqueline Gares starring Orange Is The New Black star and trans actress/activist Laverne Cox.

"Briefly I would say that FREE CeCe! is the story of a black woman, CeCe McDonald, who is trans and was treated unfairly by the criminal justice system which in turn has made her an advocate against this very system, and systemic racism, and trans-misogyny within it," Gares told "CeCe McDonald was attacked on the way to the grocery store on a Saturday night in Minneapolis, she was never seen by the system as someone who was attacked. She was never granted a self-defense claim when her attacker died. She was incarcerated and she had the support of her community to raise media awareness to her case. While she was incarcerated she became a prison abolitionist."

Gares first became aware of CeCe McDonald nearly four years ago while working with Cox on a segment for the now canceled show In The Life about McDonald's story. The show was forced to end before the segment could be created, but it was three months later when Gares saw Cox speak about CeCe McDonald, who was still incarcerated at the time, at the GLAAD Media Awards that Gares took matters into her own hands.

"I was shocked that no one had actually covered her story," Gares said. "I then said to myself, 'why haven't you done something?!?' It was a moment that changed me, I felt compelled. I had the skills to direct and produce this, so why hadn't I done something."

"I think as white people when we see racial injustice, we need to do all we can to make a difference," Gares continued. "This was my way of doing what I could. I wanted to lift up and amplify CeCe's voice and with the help of the voice of Laverne Cox. I contacted Laverne and we decided to move forward as an independent documentary feature film. FREE CeCe! is the result of our collaboration of almost four years in the making."

TransReelization has grown significantly since its inception by Chicago House and Lana Wachowski, a director and producer for The Matrix movies and the hit Netflix show Sense8, three years ago. Formerly hosted at Wachowski's private movie studio Kinowerks (at 5645 N Ravesnwood), this year the film benefit is expanding to the The Music Box Theatre (3733 N Southport) -- a more central location that can accommodate nearly 800 viewers,

As always, TransReelization is a fundraiser for Chicago House's TransLife Center (TLC), which "provides housing, employment, legal and healthcare services to transgender people who are facing extreme poverty or homelessness," representative Anthony DiFiore told Attending TransReelization means that your ticket purchase is actually going to help the most vulnerable members of our community.

"Screenings like TransReelizations are vital for allowing filmmakers to connect deeply to the trans community," Gares said. "Allowing filmmakers and the subject of FREE CeCe! CeCe McDonald to connect with a trans audience is especially important for trans people of color to relate CeCe's story to their own life. We have had important dialogue with trans film festivals, especially hearing testimonials from trans people of color who are happy to witness this story being told because it reflects the many injustices they have faced."

TransReelization is screening the film FREE CeCe! this Saturday, November 5, from 2-4 p.m. at the Music Box Theatre and also offering a fundraising After Party at Wachowski's Kinowerks movie studio. The after party will include, among other things, a rare, behind-the-scenes tour of Kinowerks, an exclusive preview of never-before-seen footage from Season 2 of Sense8 and the chance to mingle with Lana Wachowski and meet and greet with Cece McDonald herself as well as director Jac Gares.

Tickets for the screening and the after party can be found at More information is available online