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Review: Families fight for their transgender children in documentary ‘The Most Dangerous Year’

(L-R)- Annabelle and Chadd Knowlton in Vlada Knowlton’s “THE MOST DANGEROUS YEAR.” Credit: Marymoor
Annabelle and Chadd Knowlton in the documentary “The Most Dangerous Year.”
(Marymoor Productions)

Filmmaker Vlada Knowlton turns the camera onto her own family for her humble, yet deeply moving documentary, “The Most Dangerous Year.” In 2016, Knowlton and her family found themselves fighting for the civil rights of their young transgender daughter, Annabelle, and the film depicts their journey into the world of politics, as transphobic “bathroom bills” swept the nation and their home state of Washington.

Knowlton’s charismatic young daughter is the best argument for the message of humanity at the center of this film, and this movement. She’s a bright, confident youngster, empowered to be who she is by her family, who join with the families of other transgender youth to fight for their rights to be who they are in public.

Although “The Most Dangerous Year” sometimes gets bogged down with explainers, it’s a powerful educational tool and empathy-building story. While conservatives rail against the dangers of grown men exposing themselves in women’s bathrooms, the young trans girls and their advocates make the argument that bathrooms should be safe for all girls. Knowlton smartly links this movement to other historical civil rights movements, including the fight for the Americans With Disabilities Act.

What makes “The Most Dangerous Year” so beautifully effective is its representation of these loving, proud families who choose to stand up for the humanity and humane treatment of their children — and the politicians who listen.

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‘The Most Dangerous Year’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Starts April 26, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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