Review by Camden Ferrell
I Hate New York is a documentary from Gustavo Sánchez. The film had its premiere in 2018 at the Málaga Film Festival and has played other festivals since then. This film is also the directorial debut of Sánchez. The subject of this documentary is engaging and essential, but the film suffers from a lack of organization that muddles its message heavily.
This film focuses heavily on the underground scene of New York City, and it tells the story of four transgender artists and activists. The film is a result of ten years’ worth of footage shot by Sánchez of his four subjects and their roles in NYC’s underground scene. This is a fascinating subject for a documentary, and with ten years of footage, there is plenty of material that would have been amazing to see. However, the film doesn’t know how to always capitalize on the subjects’ captivating personalities.
Sánchez tells the story of four activists, and it’s very clear that he has his own artistic vision for the film. There are some visual quirks and directorial choices that are quite unique, but it is often misplaced and creates some lulls in the film or distracts from other aspects of the film.
The subjects themselves are very fascinating, and they are the best part of the movie. Amanda Lepore, Chloe Dzubilo, Sophia Lamar, and T De Long are all very talented women that deserve to have their stories told. They are models, singers, rappers, and so much more, and it’s really interesting to hear these charismatic artists talk about themselves and how they fit into the underground scene in New York.
The music in this movie is also pretty decent. What the movie lacks in coherence, it almost makes up for it with its great needle drops and really jam-packed soundtrack. While the music is just there to supplement the material, it is easily one of the best parts of this documentary.
The main problem with the film is with how it doesn’t organize the subjects in the most coherent way. It jumps around a lot with its subjects and themes, and it all gets muddled in the madness, and it undermines the emotional power and energy that these stories have. It just seems there was a lack of essential foundation in this documentary which ultimately is its downfall.
Despite its flaws, the film does highlight some highly essential stories that speak volumes about the trans community. Even if it isn’t the most captivating film, these are four fantastic activists who deserve to tell their stories because they’re important for this exact moment in time.
I Hate New York isn’t the riveting exploration of trans activists in New York’s underground that it could have been. Even with fascinating subjects and great music, a lack of structure prevents this movie from finding sure footing as it aims to tell these stories.
I Hate New York is available on VOD September 1.