Filming began Jan. 18 on “Relish,” a ground-breaking motion picture backed by veteran producers, directors and authentic actors that will spotlight the struggles of today’s transgender teens.
“Relish” is written and directed by the acclaimed Justin Ward, whose motion picture “The Meanest Man in Texas” garnered 13 official film festival selections, 30 award nominations and 19 wins prior to its 2018 release. MANM Productions’ Terry Nardozzi is on board as producer – her first feature film following a string of Tony Award nominations on Broadway.
“Relish” tells the story of five teenage outcasts who escape a private treatment facility. Led by a rebellious transgender male, the group embarks on a wild, life-changing road trip – ultimately discovering they have a lot more in common than they ever imagined.
The movie is particularly timely given the current social climate. In addition to having a female producer, “Relish” places a true female-to-male transgender actor (Tyler DiChiara) in the lead role, bringing a level of authenticity to the spotlight it shines on the heart-wrenching challenges faced by today’s teens.
“We did a nationwide search for a real transgender person and found DiChiara, who is a tremendous actor and human being,” says Ward.
The movie dives deep into sensitive subjects such as gender identity, mental health, anxiety, addiction, sexism, assault and how teens struggle to connect with each other amidst all of these issues.
“At its core, this is a story about unity and acceptance, and the freedom to be yourself,” said Ward. “I wanted to create a diverse cast of outcast characters, who suffer the real issues teens face today, and then take them on a wild road trip that brings them together.”
Other “Relish” cast members include Mateus Ward (“Murder in the First”), Hana Hayes (“Insidious: The Last Key”) and James Morrison (“24”).
“What drew me to this project was the talent, both behind the camera, and in front, and the themes that are so relevant,” said Nardozzi. “It’s a coming of age story in an age of social media and gender identity. Are we who the world sees us as, or are we who we see ourselves as? But it is also a story of kids just wanting to be kids and relish life.”
“As a producer who is a woman, it is extremely important to me at this point in time to support and promote strong characters in a non-biased, gender-based way.”
Movie production is also supported by Higher Purpose Entertainment CEO Brad Wilson, an award-winning producer of more than 40 feature films and television projects who formerly operated Robert Duvall Productions.