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North By Current Discussion Guide

Film Summary & Using This Guide


Filmmaker and artist Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his rural Michigan hometown after the death of his young niece. Decades of home movies and ethereal narration reflect on struggles with grief and addiction as Madsen examines family, faith, and transgender identity.


This guide is an invitation to dialogue and requires preparation before you and your community dive in. This guide is designed for people who want to use North By Current to engage family friends, classmates, colleagues, and communities in honest, though challenging, conversations that will require all participants remain committed to being fully present. Conversations that center gender identity; feelings of belonging; addiction; abuse and safety; loss and grief can be difficult to begin and facilitate, but this guide is meant to support you in sustaining conversations in community. In contrast to initiatives that foster debates in which participants try to convince others that they are right, this document envisions conversations undertaken in a spirit of openness in which people listen actively and share different experiences and viewpoints with care and respect.

This discussion guide is meant to inspire people with varying degrees of knowledge, as well as dynamic and different experiences, in relation to these topics to enter the conversation, and stay present in the conversation, in order to impact change and awareness.

The discussion prompts are intentionally crafted to help a wide range of audiences think more deeply about the topics in the film. Rather than attempting to address them all, choose the questions that best meet your needs and interests. And be sure to leave time to consider taking action. Planning next steps can help people leave the room feeling energized and transformed, even in instances when conversations have been difficult and/or uncomfortable. Please also consider using the closing activity that gives participants an opportunity to collectively reflect before closing.

About the authors

AJ Jennings

AJ Jennings (they/them) is an early childhood educator in Chicago, IL. They are committed to listening closely to children and fostering a classroom environment that supports positive identity development. They have served as the Curriculum and Professional Development Director at the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, an organization that advocates for schools to create affirming learning environments for LGBTQ+ students in Illinois.