Red Without Blue
Directed by Brooke Sebold and Benita and Todd Sills
2007, 77 minutes
About the Film
Red Without Blue is an artistic and groundbreaking portrayal of gender, identity, and the unswerving bond of twinship despite transformation. An honest portrayal of a family in turmoil, Red Without Blue follows a pair of identical twins as one transitions from male to female. Captured over a period of three years, the film documents the twins and their parents, examining the Farley’s struggle to redefine their family.
The twins’ early lives were quintessentially all-American: picture-perfect holidays, supportive parents who cheered them on every step of the way. By the time they were fourteen, their parents had divorced, they had come out as gay, and a joint suicide attempt precipitated a forced separation of Mark and Alex for two and half years.
Through candid and extensive interviews with the twins and their family, Red Without Blue recounts these troubled times, interweaving the twins’ difficult past with their efforts to find themselves in the present. The film follows the painful steps of Clair’s transition, including electrolysis and the difficult decision to proceed with bottom surgery.
Through its portrayal of these articulate and independent twins, each haunted by the painful experiences of their adolescence, the film questions normative standards of gender and identity—as Mark and Clair reassert their indescribable bond as identical twins.
Through the power of the Farleys’ voices, we hear the story of a family’s redemption from a dark past, and ultimately, its revival to the present.
When Mark initially moved into our house, we bonded instantly over art, film, and decorating tips. Over the next few months, we became close friends, sharing embarrassing stories, sexual escapades, and the mundane minutia of our daily lives.
When Mark did finally tell us the story of his past—a story wrought with drug and sexual abuse, attempted suicide, severe homophobia and, ultimately, transformation—we knew that we were in a unique position to tell Mark and Clair’s story with a degree of intimacy rarely found in documentary film. We also knew that by telling this story, we could perhaps help others to look past their personal judgments and get to know the singular and indestructible bond that defines Mark and Clair.
Red Without Blue is particularly unique in its rejection of the concept of detached filmmaker observing a subject through a lens. Our intention is to make the film Mark would have made for himself had he been a filmmaker. Thus, Red Without Blue is a complex and highly intimate journey portraying the evolution of the relationship between Mark and Alex and eventually Mark and Clair.
As both filmmakers and friends of the Farley family, we had a great responsibility to make an authentic and honest film that refrained from exploiting their singular story. The Farleys had faith in us from the very beginning, regardless of the fact that this was our first film. For us, the greatest success of Red Without Blue is the fact that the Farley family is proud of our work.
Co-Director/ Co-Editor/ Co-Cinematographer
Brooke Sebold has been producing, directing, and editing documentary films for the last six years. In 2006, she became a producer/editor for the Vanguard Journalism department of Current TV, Al Gore’s newly established cable television station. In her tenure at Current, Brooke edited over sixty pieces currently airing in fifty million homes in both the U.S. and the UK. Brooke graduated from Brown University in 2003, and is currently attending Columbia University’s M.F.A. Filmmaking Program as a Dean’s Fellow. Projects that Brooke has worked on in the past include Let’s Get Real, Irons in the Fire, As Old As Our Eyes, Poumy, and Four Short Films About Love
Benita has been working in the documentary film industry for seven years. She has worked with several established Bay Area documentary filmmakers, gaining extensive exposure to current trends in documentary and learning from the successful techniques of award-winning directors. Currently Benita is working as an editor for Current TV. Projects that Benita has worked on in the past include Let’s Get Real, Poumy, People Say I’m Crazy, The Fire Next Time, and Girl Trouble.
Growing up in Morocco, Todd has brought a real diversity of perspective to the project. Todd studied film at New York University and holds degrees in religion and poetry from Northwestern University. After working at Merchant Ivory Films in New York, he moved to San Francisco where he split his time managing Access Video and working on the post-production team at KQED’s Spark. Projects that Todd has worked on in the past include: ITVS Input Conference, Spark*, Le Divorce, The Mystic Masseur, and Guitar Wolf at CBGBs
Click here to read an interview with Benita Sills, Co-Director of Red Without Blue