Patrick Brăila, photo credit Alex Galmeanu

Patrick Brăila, photo credit Alex Galmeanu

PATRICK BRĂILA, Romania

Art per se might not be able to change mentalities, but it can challenge them. It can open a dialogue, it can raise questions.”

LOUDER interviews gather contributions from activists, community organizers and civil society professionals from Romania, Finland, Russia and all over the world.

We are happy to start our LOUDER interviews section with Patrick Brăila, trans activist from Romania.

LOUDER: What does it mean for you to contribute to your community?

I’ve started work as a trans activist for one reason only: to help and give comfort to trans people in my country. And that started from one simple drive: love. I knew it wouldn’t work unless I expose myself with honesty, and work closely with people whom I see as siblings. So, this is what I do: I give counseling, I meet with trans people and their families, I talk publicly about our existence and struggles, I try to meet with authorities to make them understand our needs and I make films. So far, I’ve made one short and am developing a feature documentary, both autobiographical. I thought this way it would be most fair: to expose myself, my story and try to start a dialogue about our right to live happily and at peace in a country that does not acknowledge, nor respect our existence

I remember when I made Abreast, a short fiction film about the relationship between a mother and her trans son and their struggle to come to term with the sons identity. It’s inspired by the relationship between my mother and I and it was shot in the village where both her and I grew up.

LOUDER: Could you tell us an inspiring story about your activity or you working for your community?

It’s hard to evaluate stories of my work as being inspiring, that’s for someone else to decide. But I remember when I made Abreast, a short fiction film about the relationship between a mother and her trans son and their struggle to come to term with the sons identity. It’s inspired by the relationship between my mother and I and it was shot in the village where both her and I grew up. It was a remarkable effort of a small team of wonderful people who worked closely and with limited resources to get this film done. It was also a mile stone in my personal and artistic becoming. But above all, I had my family closely involved into this project. My parents and late grandmother were there all the way, making sure everything was ready for our arrival and for the shooting. I remember my mum working so hard to welcome us and prepare all that lovely food and my dad regularly bringing us hot coffee and sandwiches on the hills where we were filming. They even found the extras and the horse that appear in the film, they were all poor neighbors. Above everything, it have my mother some peace, because her most fear, that I would become a paria, vanished seeing all the support I received. The film traveled a lot and it was discussed a lot and maybe this means that it achieved its goal.

LOUDER: Do you think art can contribute to a better society/community? How?

Art per se might not be able to change mentalities, but it can challenge them. It can open a dialogue, it can raise questions. It can leave you thinking about yourself and the world around you. It can impact your thought and feelings. Art’s purpose, however, shouldn’t be to make society better. That’s politics. That some art becomes political is inevitable. But, above all, art should be brutally honest, unapologetic and properly paid for.  

LOUDER: Any words for our LOUDER participants.

Stay true to who you are, what you do and where you want to arrive. And be kind, always be kind.