A new short documentary ‘Mack Wrestles’ premiered this past weekend at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The 25-minute film explores the life and journey of Mack Beggs, who is a wrestler that took on the Texas high school athletics as a transgender male forced to compete in the girl’s division. A requirement that was based on Texas state wide high school athletics policies requiring high school athletes compete in the gender listed on their birth certificate.

The film takes the audience behind the scenes as this gifted athlete from Euless, Texas, struggles against the outside forces that stigmatize transgender athletes.“ and was produced by Katie Barnes and directed by Taylor Hess and Erin Sanger.

‘Mack Wrestles’ was selected as one of three projects for the Short Documentary Program organized by the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and ESPN. The program is designed to support short documentaries to tell sports related stories about individuals and communities. Particularly for filmmakers and storytellers “whose perspectives and backgrounds have been historically underrepresented” Each project receives between $15,000 – $20,000 and mentoring guidance for the production of their film from the program.

The SXSW Film Festival has focused on increasing the diversity of it’s filmmakers and entrants. In the feature film line up includes, 40% of the films have one or more female directors, 29% are directed by people of color and 13% are created by people who identify as LGBTQIA. There are 103 feature films by 124 filmmakers.

The SXSW Film Festival was the world premier of ‘Mack Wrestles’ and the audience include Mack Beggs himself along with the filmmakers Barnes, Hess and Sanger, as well as family and friends. No information yet on when the film will be released to a wider audience.

By Dirk Smith