Thursday, June 21, 2018

Happy Birthday to 'The Matrix' and 'Bound' Filmmaker Lana Wachowski--First Out Transgender Film Director

Lana Wachowski (formerly Laurence "Larry" Wachowski) was born today, June 21, in 1965. She is a film director, screenwriter, and producer. Her sibling is Lilly Wachowski, formerly Paul "Andy" Wachowski, and both are trans women.

Collectively known as the Wachowskis and formerly as the Wachowski Brothers, the pair made their directing debut in 1996 with Bound, and achieved fame with their second film The Matrix (1999), a major box office success for which they won the Saturn Award for Best Director. They wrote and directed its two sequels: The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (both in 2003), and were deeply involved in the writing and production of other works in that franchise.

Following the commercial success of The Matrix series, they wrote and produced the 2006 film V for Vendetta (an adaptation of the comic of the same name by Alan Moore), and in 2008 released the film Speed Racer, which was a live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime series of the same name. Their next film, Cloud Atlas, based on the novel of the same name by David Mitchell and co-written and co-directed by Tom Tykwer, was released in 2012.

Their film Jupiter Ascending and the Netflix series Sense8, which they co-created with J. Michael Straczynski, both debuted in 2015. Sense8 was canceled after two seasons in June 2017, but returned with a two-hour series finale this year (now streaming).

The sisters have worked as a writing and directing team through most of their professional film careers, from Bound through the first season of Sense8. Following her gender transition, Lilly Wachowski took a break from active writing and directing; Lana worked on the second season of Sense8 without her.

Lilly and Lana Wachowski
Rumors that Lana Wachowski was transitioning spread in the early 2000s, though neither sibling spoke directly on the subject at the time. In a 2007 interview Joel Silver, the producer of numerous Wachowski films, said that the rumors concerning the gender reassignment surgery were "all untrue," saying that "they just don't do interviews, so people make things up." Crew members working on Speed Racer said similarly.

Lana completed the transition after Speed Racer's release in 2008, and by at least December 2010, trade magazines and newspapers referred to her as "Lana Wachowski," and to the duo as "Andy and Lana Wachowski." (Lilly came out as a transgender woman in March 2016.)  In July 2012, Lana made her first public appearance after transitioning, in a video discussing the creative process behind Cloud Atlas. Lana is the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender.

Lana married Thea Bloom in 1993; they divorced in 2002. Lana subsequently began dating Karin Winslow (with Lana above); they married in 2009. Winslow is a board member of the Chicago House and Social Service Agency.

In October 2012, Lana received the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award. In her acceptance speech, she revealed that once during her youth, she had considered committing suicide because of her feelings of confusion about identity. Her acceptance speech was one of the longest public appearances by either of the notoriously reclusive siblings. Lana said that, although she and her sibling had not publicly commented on her transitioning during the previous decade, it was not because she was ashamed of it, nor had she kept it a secret from her family and friends. Rather, she stated, the two are generally shy about the news media and prefer to maintain their privacy. Comparing media exposure to losing one's virginity as an irreversible event that only happens once, the Wachowskis had tried to stay out of the public eye. They feared losing their privacy and the ability to go to public places without being noticed and harassed as celebrities.

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