Markie in Milwaukee

Directed by Matt Kliegman

88 minutes / Color
Closed Captioned
Release: 2020
Copyright: 2019

film poster

A 7-foot-tall fundamentalist Baptist minister, Markie Wenzel made the decision at age 46 to come out as a transgender woman and start living as female. It was a decision that ended her 20-year marriage and estranged her from her three children. It also saw her dismissed from her church and exiled to the margins of her community.

We meet Markie in 2008 as she is putting the pieces of her life back together, employed as a TSA agent and working toward her goal of sexual reassignment surgery. But over the course of the following decade, Markie begins to question her path. She misses the births of her grandchildren, struggles to present as feminine, and starts to re-evaluate her faith. On the eve of her gender reassignment surgery, she must decide for good whether to abandon her female identity and return to living as Mark, for whom life seemed so much easier.

With over a decade of vérité footage and contemporaneous interviews, filmmaker Matt Kliegman approaches the film with a Diane Arbus-like observational style that is at once intimate and voyeuristic, tragic and hopeful. Markie’s aim is simple: to be a good person, and lead a simple devout life. But her struggles are emblematic of a larger conversation rooted in our country's fixation on identity—political, spiritual and personal—and the fear of those who don’t fit neatly within their own communities. When those around you won't accept you for who you are, how can you accept yourself?

"Immersive, surprising and heartbreaking. Impresses with its artfulness and insight as it captures the tormented soul of its subject."Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

"Moving; intimate... A haunting meditation on the meaning of 'identity.'" Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

"Markie is generous with the camera, and her candor lends the film power. The film doesn’t waste her openness or her willingness to use the documentary as a kind of therapeutic space." —Teo Bugbee, The New York Times

"A fascinating narrative and an amazing film; a window into the souls of all of us."
William L. Blizek, The Journal of Religion & Film

see the confusion. You hear the pain. And in the end, you realize you’re not so different from this suffering human being."Ken Lewis, Ain't it Cool News

"Extraordinary; heartwarming and heartbreaking. Who is Markie? A human being, in all their marvelous complexity."Christopher Reed, Hammer to Nail

"Intimate, compelling and powerfully ambiguous; follows a former fundamentalist Baptist minister’s midlife mission to live as her true self." Curtis M. Wong, HuffPost

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A film by Matt Kliegman
Executive produced by Larry Fessenden

Select Accolades

  • Grand Jury Prize Honorable Mention, Slamdance Film Festival
  • Life & Liberty Award, Sidewalk Film Festival
  • Best Documentary Nominee, Big Sky Film Festival
  • Sundance Documentary Fund
  • Cinereach Film Festival
  • Sunscreen Film Festival
  • Newfest Film Festival
  • Milwaukee Film Festival
  • American Fringe, Cinémathèque Française
  • Slamdance Arclight Cinema Club


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