American jazz musician Billy Tipton lived his entire life as a man, enjoying a relatively vibrant and successful family life and music career. Since his death, the tabloid tale of a fame-driven woman who "duped" everyone by pretending to be a man has prevailed. Up-and-coming filmmakers Aisling Chin-Yee’s (The Rest of Us; producer: Rhymes for Young Ghouls) and Chase Joynt’s (Framing Agnes) clever approach asserts the dignity Tipton posthumously deserves by inviting his son, Billy Jr., to re-examine his father’s life through the lens of a new generation. Reading the role of Billy, a roster of trans-masculine artists reclaim this misunderstood piece of queer history for themselves and an entire community whose elders and heroes have more or less been left in the closet.

Though Tipton himself can no longer consent to this newfound visibility or label, No Ordinary Man unapologetically celebrates Tipton’s gender expression and creates room to consider the nuance of an icon who achieved the unthinkable at a time when any perceived gender discrepancy could cost much more than a career.


Includes an interview with Directors: Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt

Director Icon Director
Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt
Producer Sarah Spring
Screenwriter Aisling Chin-Yee, Amos Mac
Cinematographer Léna Mill-Reuillard
Editor Aisling Chin-Yee
Production Company Parabola Films
Source Les Films du 3 mars
Canada 2020 80 min. English Clip


Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Chin-Yee, Aisling headshot

Director – Aisling Chin-Yee

Aisling Chin-Yee is a producer, writer, and director based in Montreal. Aisling was named one of Canada’s Rising Film Stars by Now Magazine in 2019, the year her feature film directorial debut, The Rest of Us, starring Heather Graham and Sophie Nélisse premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Aisling also produced the feature films, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Last Woman Standing, and The Saver among others. In 2015, she directed the award-winning documentary Synesthesia.

Photo: ©Samuel Engelking

Joynt, Chase headshot

Director – Chase Joynt

Chase Joynt is a transgender moving-image artist and writer. His latest short film, Framing Agnes won the Audience Award at Outfest in Los Angeles, and is being developed into a feature film. Awarded the EP Canada/Canada Film Capital Award for Emerging Canadian Artist, Joynt’s first book You Only Live Twice (co-authored with Mike Hoolboom) was named one of the best books of the year by The Globe and Mail and CBC.

Photo: ©Tanja Tiziana