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Cinema Saturdays: The Salt Mines and The Transformation Double Feature

Jul 20, 5:00pm


Join us for a screening of The Salt Mines and its sequel The Transformation.

This screening will run from 5:00 – 7:00pm with doors opening at 4:30pm.


The Salt Mines, directed by Carlos Aparicio and Susana Aikin, explores the lives of Sara, Gigi and Giovanna, three Latina transwomen who for years have lived on the streets of Manhattan supporting their drug addictions through sex work. They made their temporary home inside broken garbage trucks that the sanitation department keeps next to the salt deposits used in the winter to melt the snow. The three friends share the place known as The Salt Mines with a varied community of homeless people. They talk about their sexual identity, their past, and their dreams. We follow their daily lives day and night until the place is closed and sealed by the city, forcing everyone to disperse, in this groundbreaking 1990 documentary, one of the first to delve into the lives of trans women and sex workers.

In the 1995 follow up documentary to The Salt MinesThe Transformation, Sara discovers that she has discovered she is HIV+, and decides that she is not going to die on the streets. Sara accepts help from a group of Born Again Christians who, in exchange, demand her complete transformation: from female to her born gender of male and from queer to straight.

Sara, now known as Ricardo, is taken to Dallas where he attempts to transform himself inside and out. Ricardo becomes a Christian and marries fellow churchgoer Betty, and together they start a new life away from his past. Meanwhile the church organizes a trip to New York to “rescue” other trans sex workers and invites Ricardo to go along with them to preach his example. As Ricardo travels to New York and meets up with old friends Gigi and Giovanna, Ricardo is forced to look back on life, and consider whether his current “transformation” is true, or simply a desperate exercise in survival. Ricardo and the church committee return to Dallas empty handed. This film, coupled with The Salt Mines, offers an early unparalleled look into gender, sexuality, health, and class as they intersected in the early 1990s in New York City.

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