(director/writer: Kristen Lovell/Zackary Drucker; cinematographer: Sara Kinney; editor: Mel Mel Sukekawa-Mooring; music: Stenfert Charles; Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Matt Wolf; HBO Documentary Films; 2023)
“It’s a well-made queer film that reaches out to the more progressive viewer.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An LGBTQ+ film directed and written by Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker, first time feature filmmakers, that tells with great feelings the collective history of the transgender women of color who worked “the stroll”—a section of 14th Street in Lower Manhattan’s now changed into the gentrified Meatpacking District—that existed from the 1970s until the early 2000s. It highlights the intrinsic role that trans sex workers have played in the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Lovell mentions she ran away from a bad home environment as a 15-year-old to come to the city. She was jobless and homeless, and discovered “the stroll.” She was helped in that setting by the sisterhood and a number of resilient Black trans women, and became a sex worker in the district.
It’s sad to note that many who worked on the 14th street “stroll” are no longer living. It was a rough life, dealing with violent clients and harassment from the NYPD (frequent arrests). The film pays tribute to them as it also praises the survivors.
Lovell talks with 11 trans women and gets their insider survival stories.
It uses archival films from the past to bolster its stories, that are told in a realistic way by the trans women of color who lived the life and faced some uncomfortable truths about their lifestyle.
The film acknowledges some progress in changing attitudes to the trans and that sex worker rights improved.
It’s a well-made queer film that reaches out to the more progressive viewer.
It played at the Sundance Film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 2/14/2023 GRADE: B