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Interview with dir. Maya Newell on “The Dreamlife of Georgie Stone” Documentary

Spanning nineteen years, The Dreamlife of Georgie Stone reveals the memories of Georgie Stone, an Australian transgender teen as she helps change laws, affirms her gender, finds her voice, and emerges into adulthood.

Australian director Maya Newell – whose 2013 documentary, Gayby Baby, followed four children of LGBQTI families –  began filming Georgie and her family six years ago, after hearing about her advocacy and wanting to document the teenager’s point of view. The documentary short became such a collaboration that Georgie earned the credit ‘creative producer’ and also oversaw the entire edit of the film – to launch worldwide on Netflix on September 22. We caught up with Maya on zoom from her home in Sydney.


How did you get involved in Georgie’s story?

I’d just finished making my first feature documentary, which was inspired by my story. I’ve got two lesbian moms and the whole country was screaming across tables about the equality of marriage debate. No one was asking the kids what they felt. I was thinking a lot about the missing voices, especially transgender, gender diverse, and non-binary young people who are surrounded by politicians and conservative groups talking about their right to exist but never giving them an opportunity to speak themselves. So, I reached out to Georgie’s family. I met Georgie when she was 14 and she was this confident, bubbly, beautiful young person with braces who was having her first crushes on boys.

How did you agree on what parts of her life would be included?

We talked about what a film would look like and didn’t really know, during those six years, if we would even make a film. I have to take a moment and genuinely appreciate the level of access and intimacy that Georgie has courageously shared with us. It doesn’t come naturally, as she’s a really private person. But, throughout those years, we talked about representation, heroes who told their stories for the purpose of social justice throughout history and weighing up the value and risk of sharing these intimate moments. It wasn’t about her saying “I don’t want that in there.” We allowed space for Georgie to say “this is really sensitive in the context of including a moment about my surgery; or uncertainty I have about my trans experience, as well as the love and pride and euphoria I have about being a trans person.” 


Why did you decide to also include the home movie footage?

It’s not a straight-up documentary. Georgie said that she wants the film to represent all of the moments and memories that made her. So, we took that really seriously. There’s this beautiful trove of home movies. What is so beautiful is that you see, from a toddler, this consistency of self over time that shows us, undeniably, Georgie’s identity. There is one interview in the film that recurs. That’s nine-year-old Georgie being interviewed by her dad. She has these wise, almost haunting, eyes as she innocently and clearly articulates her sense of self – as if she’s waiting for the world to understand what she needs but knows they’re not there yet. It’s quite heartbreaking but incredibly moving too.

What are your hopes for making an impact with this film?

What’s wonderful in this film is that (the Australian state of) Victoria, where Georgie is from, is world-leading in terms of access to gender-affirming care at the Royal Children’s Hospital. It has the full support of the state government, too. There are different levels of support in different countries and a lot of work to do. But, overall, the message from Georgie is that, if you are a trans young person, you can dream big. There is a positive, hopeful future where you’ll find support.


To learn more about Transcend, the trans youth support organization founded in 2012 by Georgie’s mother, Rebekah Robertson, and to download a discussion guide and other resources to share with family watching the documentary together, please check out: https://dreamlifefilm.com/.