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Vuk Lungulov-Klotz | Because No Moon, No Mutt is Ever the Same

Via the 25th Anniversary Issue, Under The Silver Moon

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LORO PIANA sweater and G-SHOCK watch.

So much is lost in movement, from point A to point B, from one era to another, in the waxing and waning of life’s many moons. The magic of transformation does not lie in the outcome but rather the middle ground– the stories collected in transit and the lessons gleaned in the rearview. Director and screenwriter Vuk Lungulov-Klotz’s first feature film Mutt intimately familiarizes viewers with the world of the in-between: the 2023 Sundance-premiered Mutt depicts a day in the life of Feña (Lío Mehiel), a biracial trans man who begins hormone therapy, as he navigates familial and romantic relationships held in purgatory until after his gender transition. 

Lungulov-Klotz has felt the state of flux permeates through his coming of age. He grew up in Chile, raised by his mother, but would travel once a year to the States with his twin to visit his father. At home, he would be singled out for his blonde hair, and in the US, by his accent. A decade ago, when he came out as trans, he recalls learning how to navigate people’s visceral, unfiltered reactions with empathy, “trying my best to put myself in their shoes,” he explains.

Now at 29 years old with a home base in Brooklyn’s Bushwick but a schedule that takes him internationally, Lungulov-Klotz has become at ease in the chaos of perpetual motion, honing it into a thematic keystone. He says, “I have started to find that in between is just my sense of home and that I don’t ever want to stop moving or be completely comfortable in one place.”

Mutt is set in New York, Lungulov-Klotz sees the city as not just a melting pot of experiences, but as a safe haven for queer and trans individuals. “I can’t really envision the freedom to be trans and the way my character is trans in many other cities,” Lungulov-Klotz says. “Part of the reality of being trans is flocking to cities like Los Angeles or New York.”

Written over the course of six years and shot in just 24 days, Mutt is what Lungulov-Klotz calls “a little love story to New York.” At the same time, the film unravels the complexity of love, portioning it into all its simple languages. Although never expressed explicitly, it takes the form of a car that Feña’s ex-boyfriend loans him to pick up his father. It comes through the wisdom Feña imparts on his estranged younger half-sister or the tender moment of silence between Feña and his father in the film’s final moments. Despite Feña’s tense relations with all three characters, a mutual love is palpable through subtle acts of care.

On why he chose these bonds to contextualize Feña’s character, Lungulov-Klotz explains, “It’s all about code-switching—whether you’re doing it consciously or not, you’re showing different versions of yourself to these people... In terms of intimacy, those [relationships] were just so different, and the giving-and-taking negotiations that happen between all those relationships are incredibly different.” The “trifecta” of connections also explores questions that Lungulov-Klotz had himself after coming out: “It was all my fears,” he shares candidly. “Like, will my family accept me? Will I be able to be a mentor to someone else? And will I ever be loved or desired by a partner?”

Creating Mutt itself was an act of love—his gift to other transmasculine individuals to affirm that there is an abundance of love available to them, that they can be confident in their sexuality and desired. Lungulov-Klotz has recently returned from Paris where he was writing the first draft of his next feature. “[The film is] an erotic thriller, but you have to think of erotic and thriller [as] separate and not as the genre that it was in the ‘90s.” Set in the Hamptons, the film will be “very plot-driven” with “lots of special effects”—a departure from Mutt’s straightforward, yet hectic, slice-of-life.

When asked what he still longs for, Lungulov-Klotz mentions a second feature film and new collaborators to work and grow with. But first, he answered, “Love?” With more certainty, he quickly adds, “For real though, always searching for love.” (Specifically, “a head over heels kind of love.”) There is an inevitability to romantic love, he explains, no way to circumvent it or truly quash it. “It’s so nostalgic,” he says. “I’m in a good, mature place. I feel like I’ve learned so much from my past romantic relationships that whoever I end up dating next, it’s going to be the most present version of myself thus far, which is hopefully what you’re always striving for, right? A better version of you for the people around you.” 

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Flaunt Magazine, Issue 190, The 25th Anniversary Issue, Under The Silver Moon, Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Mutt, Brendan Le, Elinor Kry, Eloise Moulton
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