Program 12: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
Directed by David France
On July 6, 1992, Marsha P. Johnson’s body was discovered in the Hudson River near Christopher Street. Police quickly closed the case, ruling her death a suicide, but those closest to her said she would never have taken her own life. So what really happened? That’s what Victoria Cruz hopes to find out.
Cruz, a trans woman, works for the NYC Anti-Violence Project as a crime victim advocate. A survivor of sexual assault herself, she is all too familiar with the dangers faced by those in the trans community. Before retiring, Cruz wants closure on Marsha’s death. For how can she hope for justice for today’s numerous trans victims of violence when an icon like Marsha never got any?
Marsha P. Johnson was a veteran of the Stonewall Riots, and was considered by many to be the Queen of Greenwich Village. She was a mother figure to many LGBT youth, and a pioneer in the fight for LGBT civil rights. Along with friend Sylvia Rivera, Johnson founded STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) to advocate for drag queens and the trans community.
We may never know what happened to Marsha P. Johnson. It may have been an accident, but there is also evidence to suggest she was killed by the mob. What is clear in this fascinating film by Academy Award nominated filmmaker David France (How To Survive A Plague), featuring never-before-seen footage, is that she was one of the highest profile members of a community that remains the target of harassment, discrimination, and violence to this day. And if the LGBT community is to be truly worthy of the word “community,” it is up to each of us, and our allies, to look out for our trans brothers and sisters – just as they were on the front lines in the riots in 1969 that kick-started the gay rights movement.
— Christopher Roesch
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- Freedom Award – Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival
- Official Selection – Tribeca Film Festival
- Official Selection – Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival
- Official Selection – Seattle International Film Festival
- Official Selection – Provincetown International Film Festival
- Official Selection – Sheffield Doc|Fest (UK)
- Official Selection – Barcelona LGBT Film Festival
- Official Selection – Torino Gay & Lesbian Film Festival