Kim J. Dogluv has lived in Seattle a long time, relatively speaking —over twenty years at least, by my math. We met many years ago (when I was writing this story…don’t judge, everyone was doing it), and we’ve kept in contact (i.e. I’ve cyber-stalked him) ever since.
The documentary Finding Kim, currently playing at SIFF, follows Kim’s emotional and fascinating journey as a trans man embracing himself and his true identity, and it is generating a more than respectable amount of buzz at the festival this year.
“It seems daunting to begin transition at my age,” Kim tells us. “Some people will say they can’t do it, they’re too old. But that is NOT true! I want to encourage those like myself who are older and have waited so long. Also, to tell young people that if you KNOW you need to transition then maybe don’t wait an additional 27 years to do it like I did!”
“The film follows my transition from beginning hormone therapy in late 2012 up to my top surgery in 2014 and a few months beyond that,“ Kim tells us.
“Aaron Bear, the director, and I have been friends for 12 years. We were at a friend’s party in 2012, and I said to him, (sort of out of the blue) that I had decided to transition. For real, this was it,” Kim explains.
“That same night he asked me if I’d consider being the subject of a documentary. He’d been looking for the right project, one that meant something special, and he thought that my transition was it. We decided that if it could possibly help one person in some way, that it would be worth doing.
And so, Finding Kim was born. I asked Kim how it feels to watch himself, onscreen, in such a vulnerable context.
“Well, it’s very uncomfortable actually,” Kim admits. “I judge myself harshly.
“It’s embarrassing to see myself or hear myself. And also to see my former chest. But it’s cool to see how I’ve changed! I like how I look, FINALLY, after a lifetime of not”, he says. “I lost over 80 lbs. during the course of filming” Kim says, “as well as top surgery.”
Top surgery is a surgical breast reconstruction that creates a masculine chest—a painful and traumatic procedure that can take a great deal of care and attention to overcome. But did the filming of this transition made the process harder? Or easier?
“I think it made it maybe harder in some ways but easier in others,” Kim says. “But mostly it was good for me–and I KNOW that the film was the reason I ended up with top surgery way before I thought I’d ever be able to have it.”
And how does it feel to be one of the most talked about films at SIFF this year?
“It’s really incredible and I’m so happy for Aaron and Gabe” Kim says, citing director Aaron Bear and co-writer, Gabriel Bienczycki. “They did such a great job, and it’s a pretty film. It’s scary, too. I’m not out to everyone. I’m private but also outgoing. So this is all very strange.
“The times I like myself onscreen is when I am in the pool at the end of the film. The ending of the film was basically the happiest time of my life.”
The last SIFF screening of Finding Kim is Tuesday, May 31st, PM at the Egyptian Theater.