Meet the emerging trans filmmaker reflecting LGBTQ+ life through his work

We catch up with the talented young trans filmmaker, Caleb Roberts, ahead of the GAZE film Festival 2021.

Split screen of still from Boxed In short movie and trans filmmaker Caleb Roberts

Caleb Roberts is a talented young trans filmmaker from Belfast, Northern Ireland. In fact, he’s the first trans person to receive funding for creative visuals works from Northern Ireland Screen. The short film ‘Boxed in’ on which Caleb is co-Director will screen as part of GAZE film festival 2021.

He made his debut on BBC with his award-winning micro-short, From His Perspective, in 2020 and since then he has gone on to secure his first credit for a feature film, ‘Ballywalter’, as a director’s assistant.

“To be programmed at GAZE is foremost an honour and secondly a pleasure,” the young trans filmmaker told us so humbly.

“This year we have the opportunity to show a collaborative work ‘Boxed In‘ in the Queer Eire programme – directed by myself and my partner Peter Young; written, produced, and starring transgender actor Jackson Lennon. This film was a great opportunity to experience filmmaking across the border, in a much more collaborative space and the chance to work with other trans men in leading roles.”

Roberts added, “As I’m usually the only trans person on set, this was a comforting atmosphere and I thank Jackson for trusting myself and Peter with his story.”

In 2020, Roberts premiered his first short, From His Perspective, at GAZE and he is continually grateful for their support in showcasing work that he’s involved with.

“There is so much incredible queer Irish talent programmed by GAZE each year and we are privileged to be a part of that line-up. Thankfully we’ll be able to attend in person to experience the event first-hand!

His newest short film project is entitled ‘Homebird‘ starring James Doran and Peter Young who play a father and son duo and explores their estranged relationship during a night at the seafront amusements.

“I started writing Homebird during the summer of lockdown last year, moving back into the family home for a few months,” Roberts tells us. “I began to reflect on how the relationship between my parents and I had not only changed quite dramatically but flourished since transitioning.

“Homebird was in turn, inspired by the experience felt between myself and my father in the months following my ‘coming out’ and subsequent move to the big city. The awkwardness, the mismatched ideals surrounding masculinity and sexuality – the old and new; but most importantly the rekindling of our connection as father and son after months of tension and uncertainty. An ode to queer placelessness, and a commentary on the often-portrayed cliché that queer people must move away to ‘re-invent’ themselves in order to find their tribe. For a good few of us, we are home birds and over time, we have been allowed to come home.”

When asked what audiences could expect from Homebird, Roberts told us, “People can expect a difficult, sadly familiar conversation with a (thankfully) heart-warming resolution that leaves us at the beginning of a continued journey towards re-connection. A uniquely Northern Irish perspective on the masculine-queer experience within the family unit, but universal in its portrayal of the frustration to be accepted and loved by those that mean the most to you. A little bit of humour, and a whole lot of heart.”


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A post shared by Caleb J. Roberts (@calebjfilms)

Roberts added, “As I’m usually the only trans person on set, this was a comforting atmosphere and I thank Jackson for trusting myself and Peter with his story.”


On being the first trans filmmaker to receive funding from Northern Ireland Screen, Roberts acknowledged that being the first of anything is “slightly terrifying”.

“However, I have received nothing but encouragement and continued support in the development of my work through Northern Ireland Screen – support that I am incredibly grateful for!

“Finding a platform for your voice is hard at the best of times, especially coming from a drastically under-represented group even within LGBTQ+ spaces. So, I try to allow this opportunity for my writing to remain fluid while also creating the trans-masculine and queer representation I never got to experience.”

Boxed In will screen on Sunday October 3 2021 on [email protected] and you can pre-order three-day rentals here for €7.50. Tickets for cinema screenings are €11.50. The one exception to this is Breaking Out, the festival’s closer, which is a one-day rental for €9.99.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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