Limina explores gender-fluidity in children

Imagine a story about a magical child in a magical village helping create a conversation about a very real problem.

Joshua M. Ferguson and Florian Halbedl’s latest project, Limina, aims to do just that. This film follows a gender-fluid child, Alessandra, who explores the lives of the inhabitants of a picturesque village and takes part in a woman’s time of mourning.

The film is currently in the process of crowdfunding through Indiegogo and is set to hold a three day shoot in Switzerland in September 2015. Limina is being championed by many well-known professionals in the industry, including Once Upon A Time’s Lana Parrilla and Emilie De Ravin. The film’s planning, locations and crew contacts will have the assistance of the Ticino Film Commission in Southern Switzerland, who became involved after seeing a proposal for the film.

According to Ferguson, “a gender fluid child and the focus on a protagonist whose gender exists outside of the norm is a conscious and clear decision we made to make a cultural intervention.”

Limina aims to build a conversation about the natural gender-fluidity of children, who experiment with their genders as they do with all aspects of identity. Instead, society establishes strict social categories for genders, which children are put into before birth, and this can prove harmful. People like Alessandra are often bullied and oppressed, leading to high suicide and self-harm rates among trans youth.

This conversation is therefore crucial to the well-being of many young people and is one that Limina hopes to make more accessible to both children and adults. Ferguson and Halbedl had started a conversation about suicide prevention with their previous film, Whispers of Life, which was screened in 21 film festivals around the world, winning several awards and is now being shown across the country to continue raising awareness about bullying and suicide.

“I think that’s why Limina is so important, because Limina is illustrating the importance of giving space and freedom to children,” said Ferguson.

Many of the production elements, from costume to casting will reflect children’s innate, free and diverse imagination. A major element reflecting this diversity and surrealism is the filming location, Switzerland.

The title, Limina, means multiple thresholds and epitomizes the film’s focus on in-between spaces and arenas outside social norms. Halbedl, growing up in Switzerland, believed it to be the ideal location for the film. Experiencing the Swiss melting-pot of cultures, and languages, the small villages with medieval churches, folkloric and magical atmospheres made it the desired location early on in the planning process.

In terms of casting, unlike the location choice, Ferguson said “Alessandra could potentially be German, English, French.… It’s really going to be open process.”

“Because Switzerland is so central to everything, we’re hoping to tap into markets of Europe,” said Halbedl.

Although conceptual designs will be created by well-known Vancouver-based professionals, such as Cheryl Marion as production designer (who works on Once Upon a Time) and Zabrina Matiru as makeup designer (who is the key makeup artist on Supernatural), the majority of the crew will be local to Switzerland, with the Ticino Film Commission being an essential force in production.

“Filmmaking is a collaboration," said Ferguson. "We see the fundraising for something like this, which embodies such cultural relevance, also as a collaboration."

Limina aims to connect with communities on a socially significant issue. Through crowdfunding, the project can become a film created in collaboration with the community ultimately for the community. The Indiegogo campaign ends on May 23, and with the help of online contributors, Limina can both fulfill the magical vision of its creators and begin a cultural intervention on the acceptance of all types of children in society.