Conflict documentarian Jordan Bryon is invited by a Taliban Commander to film the daily life of a Taliban unit after the fall of Kabul for the New York Times. A stressful assignment for any documentarian, but this assignment proves to be particularly tumultuous because Bryon is in the process of a gender transition. Undergoing gender transition is stressful in the best of times, but doing so in Afghanistan during the Taliban’s takeover puts it on a whole other level. Bryon takes us through his transition from starting hormones to undergoing top surgery in Iran. And ultimately, through the complicated relationship he develops with the Taliban fighters he is embedded with.
Transition features extraordinary footage of Bryon hanging out with armed men when increasing friendliness creates unbearable tension. However, the film, directed by Monica Villamizar and Bryon himself, tempers any appetite for spectacle with a reflective tone about Bryon’s ethical duty, his awareness of the safety concerns of his friends and colleagues, Kiana, a female photojournalist, and Teddy, his cameraman, and his growing acceptance that his adopted home will never be the same. All this comes together for a knotty, achingly personal film that is grand in scope.––Faridah Gbadamosi