VIFF 2014: Before the Last Curtain Falls turns its lens on transgender pioneers

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      Before the Last Curtain Falls (Belgium/Germany/Canada)  

      In these days of progress for transgender people, documentary filmmaker Thomas Wallner takes a timely, and artfully constructed, look back at a group of pioneers from the past.

      The aging stars of Gardenia, a hit Belgian cabaret show, recollect the pain of boyhood, the introduction of hormones, the life-threatening surgeries abroad, and, in some cases, the need to pay their bills with prostitution. Facing old age, one mourns her lost sexuality, another makes up for her lack of children by working at a hospital ward for sick kids, and a few succumb to loneliness.

      Wallner intercuts his interviews with avant-garde sequences from the show, producing a deeply moving account of survival, identity, and the healing power of art.

      Rio, September 25 (7 p.m.) and 29 (4:30 p.m.); International Village, September 26 (1:30 p.m.)  

      Follow Janet Smith on Twitter at @janetsmitharts.