Mz. Beeni Wello performs during the talent portion of the 2014 Mz Judged pageant at the Hudson Bay Lodge last year.

Mz. Beeni Wello performs during the talent portion of the 2014 Mz Judged pageant at the Hudson Bay Lodge last year.

Documentary sheds light on violence against women

A local videographer is turning Mz Judged into a documentary.

A local videographer is turning one of the most popular fundraising events in town into a documentary to shed light on violence against women.

Jason James has spent the last few months editing footage that he filmed during last year’s Mz Judged contest.

Mz Judged is a pageant organized by the Northern Society for Domestic Peace where men from the community dress up as women and participate in talent shows in front of sold-out crowds. All the proceeds from the fundraiser go towards the society.

“What struck me was that there was way more to it than a bunch of guys dressing up as women and I knew it was for a good cause. Everyone took it seriously and they had fun doing it,” said James.

“Some of the contestants and the effort they put forth was mind-blowing, especially Mz. Matriarch . . . All that effort being put forth, it’s gone in one night. I thought it’d be nice to carry this forward and make it live a little longer since it only happens every two years.”

The film, which will be roughly one hour to an hour-and-a-half long, includes backstage footage, scenes from the talent show at Hudson Bay Lodge and interviews with contestants.

James was originally approached to be a contestant this year, but he turned it down and instead agreed to film the event. He even dressed up like a woman while he was shooting, donning a red wig, fishnet stockings skirt and went by the name Mz. Tape.

But it was not until the talent show portion of the evening when James realized how unique the event was.

“As soon as I saw Travis [Mz. Matriarch] up there doing his thing and the lyrics he came up with. That tied it all together for me. This is a serious issue,” he said.

James has since taken on the documentary himself at no cost to the society.

He described the film as a  mix of entertainment, while simultaneously bringing serious messages to the forefront.

“There is help out there, that’s a big part of the message of the documentary,” he said.

“Communities can stand up, other men can stand up and take the lead and show the proper respect and behaviour.”

He also hopes other communities will host similar events to raise awareness of violence against women.

George Whitehead a.k.a. Mz. Calculated during this year’s pageant said every little bit helps to raise awareness of violence against women.

“Hopefully it will make an impact on people, get people talking, raise more awareness and get people to seek help if they need it,” he said. “Every little bit helps.”

James said he does not have a release date set for the movie yet, but there will a chance to see the rough cut footage on Thursday, March 26 at the Roi Theatre at 7 p.m.

Tickets will be available just before the show.