Hot Docs 2024: Our Review of ‘Any Other Way: The Jackie Shane Story’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2024, Movies by - April 27, 2024
Hot Docs 2024: Our Review of ‘Any Other Way: The Jackie Shane Story’

Any Other Way: The Jackie Shane Story is a straightforward retelling of the life of its titular musical trans trailblazer. Although credit is due to how it starts in the middle, when Jackie Shane took her last bow after performing in Toronto in 1971. Where did Ms. Shane go after that last performance at the Saphire near Yonge and Richmond St.? And what was the place she called home before she landed in Toronto and decided it was her true home? This documentary answers most of that, restarting with her roots in Nashville as a drummer for musicians lost in time. She joins the circus and decides to leave that life after landing in Cornwall, Ontario, a town that welcomed her. Toronto and its gangsters also left her be and let her star power shine.

The Jackie Shane Story tells the tale of a Black trans woman who did things on her own terms. Through recordings of phone calls during the last year of her life, she reveals that others try to make her compromise herself. She turned down many opportunities, preferring to stay in Toronto despite it being an imperfect place to be Black. As I wrote above, she took her last bow in 1971, and the film reveals the lives she lived after. Outside of archive photos and rarer audio and video, the film brings her to life through rotoscope animation, elevating the film. The interviews with trans women like Makayla Walker and Sandra Caldwell provides erudite insight. I can say the same positive things for the scenes showing Shane’s many surviving relatives.

After its Hot Docs and festival run, Any Other Way: The Jackie Shane Story comes out in select North American theatres. After that, this Canadian film will obviously start streaming on Crave.

*This newer version of the piece reflects new information about how the film depicted scenes of Ms. Shane’s life.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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