Award of Excellence – “Pete” (USA)

Title: Pete
Runtime: 7 min
Country: USA
Director: Bret Parker
Placement: Award of Excellence
Competition: June, 2022

Synopsis: “Pete” is an animated short film based on a true story about gender identity, Little League Baseball, the people who inspire change by trying to be themselves, and the superheros who allow that change to happen. The setting is 1975 Winterpark, Florida where we meet Pete – an 8 year old girl with a dream of playing baseball just like all the other boys she plays street ball with on the culdesac. We quickly learn in Pete’s own words that her name isn’t actually Pete, “just the name I gave myself” But for Pete, her name is everything. Somehow, as Pete, it changed the rules. She never had to wear dresses, and she could ride bmx bikes and build forts in the muck and even spend the night with all the other boys at slumber parties. And on this day, as she marches up to the Little League registration table, she hopes it gives her a chance to play baseball. Her hope fades, however, as she watches the coach shake his head and slide the form back across the table to her, and it seems for a moment her dreams will be crushed. Just then, her mom appears, taking the form and walks behind the table, pulling the coach aside as Pete watches on. A few minutes later, after much discussion and hand waving we hear from Pete again. “I don’t really know what my mom said that day, but it meant that I was going get a chance to play baseball.”

The next we see Pete, she and her mom are pulling up to the field where she’ll be joining the team for the first time. All the kids on the team know she’s a girl and don’t really care, but because she is new on the team, none of the parents are aware. Pete understand that in order to pass, she has to know all the rituals of the game. She has to better than the boys. She has to play her heart out. Which she does, even as she comes up to bat, but as she squats at homeplate, the little pink flowers on her underwear show through her baseball pants and the crowd notices for the first time, realizing that she is actually a girl. They jeer and yell and some even start to leave the stands. Finally one of the parents yell out “whose daughter is that anyway?” Her mom, whose been sitting in the midst of the crowd, stands up. “That would be my daughter.” And for a moment, the crowd fell silent.

As it turns out, despite the animosity of the crowd that day, Pete kept playing ball that season, and for many seasons after, with the team even winning the championship several times. And so, although the world may not have been quite ready for Pete, by being herself, she managed to start changing the world.