Three Docs Share the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary at the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards – GLAAD

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The GLAAD Media Awards category celebrating outstanding documentaries is consistently one of the most competitive, filled with real-life stories from the LGBTQ community. This year, GLAAD took the unprecedented step of giving three films the award for Outstanding Documentary for their invaluable contributions to trans storytelling. During a time in which all LGBTQ people, but in particular transgender people, are facing a backlash intended to dehumanize us, these three outstanding documentaries provided a platform for Black transgender people to tell their own stories in their own words. At the GLAAD Media Awards event in New York City on Saturday, May 11, Kristen Lovell (The Stroll), Daniella Carter (Kokomo City), and Kisha Batista (Beyond the Aggressives: 25 Years Later) took the stage to accept their awards while also presenting the video recognizing award recipients in other categories.

KOKOMO CITY

Kokomo City

Kokomo City

Kokomo City is a riveting documentary that shines a light on the lives of Black transgender women living in Atlanta and New York. Directed and produced by D.Smith, and shot in beautiful black and white, this film breaks the fourth wall on survival sex work, family, sisterhood, and Black culture.

The film’s participants, Daniella Carter, Liyah Mitchell, Dominique Silver, and Koko Da Doll bring real-life nuance to the screen; giving audiences an eye-opening look at some of the realities of their collective and individual experiences. Tragically, Koko Da Doll died last year due to anti-trans violence soon after the film’s Sundance premiere, one of at least 32 transgender and gender-expansive people killed in 2023. 

The documentary is critically acclaimed and received a 99% certified fresh review on Rotten Tomatoes. During its film festival run, it was awarded at Sundance Film Festival, and Chicago Critics Film Association Awards, among others. The film can currently be seen on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Paramount Plus.


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THE STROLL

The Stroll

The Stroll

The Stroll chronicles the complicated history of Black and Latina trans sex workers in New York’s historic Meatpacking District. Whereas Kokomo City focuses on trans people engaging in survival sex work in the present, The Stroll spotlights the history of trans people engaging in survival sex work in the recent past. The film takes an unflinching look at trans people engaging in sex work and the juxtaposition between the “wholesome” American facade of the late 20th century with the underground world of survival sex work.

The film centers those who found community and support in a Meatpacking District subculture that no longer exists. It also features archival footage of trans rights icons and activists Sylvia Rivera and Paris Is Burning star Octavia St. Laurent. Additional commentary from filmmakers Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker also helps to anchor the film within the context of a larger story, examining how local politics, the birth of the internet, and the events of September 11, 2001 affected trans women and sex workers at the time. 

With a rousing premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2023, The Stroll was met with praise from critics and audiences alike. The film can currently be seen on MAX and is an HBO Original Documentary.

BEYOND THE AGGRESSIVES

Beyond the Aggressives

Beyond the Aggressives

Beyond The Aggressives: 25 Years Later is the follow-up film to the groundbreaking 2005 documentary The Aggressives. It reunites four of the original participants, giving audiences a rare, longitudinal look at four transmasculine people of color. 

In the new film, Kisha Batista, Chin Tsui, Trevon Haynes, and Octavio Sanders are chronicled from 2018-2023. Since the original film, Chin, Trevon, and Octavio have come out as trans men and transitioned.

Directed by Daniel Peddle, the remarkable documentary showcases how life’s ups-and-downs have shaped the participants, while also highlighting new voices from queer BIPOC people whose lives were greatly affected by the representation in the original film.

Most media tends to focus on trans people at one particular moment of their lives, often as they begin their transition. And mainstream media has rarely focused on trans men and transmasculine people at all. That context makes Beyond The Aggressives a much-needed touchstone for trans men and transmasculine people who need to see themselves reflected on screen. There is power in seeing that life continues after transition.

The film’s raw authenticity garnered praise from Variety and IndieWire, among other outlets. It premiered at the NewFest Film Festival and found a home on Showtime.

Each of these three documentaries is an extraordinary achievement. To have three films of this caliber released in one year is quite unprecedented. Each film acts as a companion and conversation piece to the others, reaching across time to provide context for this current moment of trans representation while reflecting on the past. Together they form the foundation of a new era of documentary filmmaking centering trans stories, providing an authenticity often missing. 

Most of all, in an era where we see such immense cultural backlash, it is even more important to continue to shine a light on trans people and their lives through powerful storytelling. These three documentaries are essential viewing. If you haven’t watched them – consider checking them out tonight.

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