“DRAW WITH ME”: Movie Review

Back in August 2020, superstar Jennifer Lopez shared some news, via an Instagram video, about an upcoming mini-documentary named Draw With Me.  Directed by Constantine Venetopoulos, the short film tells the provocative story of an intensely self-styled, articulate 19-year old college student, activist, and artist named Brendon Scholl.  Specifically, the story explores Brendon’s journey of coming out as a non-binary person: a journey which Brendon reveals had started at age 13.  In the teaser video, the singer/actress also stated why Draw With Me is a personal experience for her: Brendon is her nibling– specifically, the child of her sister Leslie Ann Lopez

Although it is only 24 minutes long, Draw With Me packs a wallop.  Throughout the movie, Brendon and their family speak candidly about the challenges they collectively faced– and continue to face together– throughout the teen’s pathway to self-discovery. It starts with the sometimes exhausting challenge of educating others about the correct pronouns.  But even more universal hurdles for Brendon are revealed: As their aunt, journalist Lynda Lopez, points out to the young artist, “Your life is suddenly political… You’re existence is a thing that makes you have to deal politically in the world on a daily basis!” Indeed, Brendon acknowledged that because they are often the first or only non-binary person many people meet, they soon become something of a representative for the entire non-binary community– whether they like it or not!  The movie’s teenage subject reveals appreciation for the support from their family– including his famous “Titi Jenn”–  but also shares that the rest of the journey was, sadly, “not as heartwarming”.  It was painting and drawing that helped guide them through their course of eventual self-love and self-acceptance.  Brendon reveals, “Art gave me an outlet for the things I couldn’t say out loud, but the things that I needed to get out of my system.”  

Draw With Me was the subject of the first-ever panel at the United Nations on Transgender Health, is an official Oscar entry for Documentary Short, and is rightfully poised to take its place on the list of essential LGBTQ cinema for the nascent year.  This short doc may be one young person’s story, but that story sends an enduring, universal message of hope for future generations.  That message of hope runs parallel with the words of President Elect Joe Biden, who also appears in the film to declare, “Its a time of real peril. It’s also a time of extraordinary possibilities.”    Here’s to 2021!

Draw With Me runs theatrically at ArenaScreen through Tuesday, February 9th.  You can watch the movie here.

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