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Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (The)

USA, English, 105 mins

  • Director: David France
  • Writer: David France; Mark Blane
  • Producer: Mark Blane; David France

CGiii Comment

This film will do nothing but break your heart...the stories of Marsha 'pay-it-no-mind' Johnson and - the indomitable - Sylvia Rivera...

David France weaves his film with strands of parallel lives - both past and present - and frames it with Victoria Cruz's dogged, investigative perseverance... in a vain attempt to get to the truth! That truth is like looking for a barbie clip in a mountain of discarded wigs with a hairdryer blowing full-force in your face! But, Victoria soldiers on...

This is a film about people who were discarded by the system...and, by their community...simply because of the way they were...in-your-face trannies - no, there was no polite PC in those days! And, yes, our fickle and factious LGBT 'community' turned their backs...the Gs and the Ls - then - paid alota mind to Marsha & Sylvia...they were regarded as either [by the Gs] as too negative of a stereotype or [by the Ls] as mocking women in their gender expression - how attitudes have changed! Shame we can't say the same about the violence against trans*people...that remains unchanged!

This is a film that doesn't shy away from the hypocrisies, the injustices, the hate and anger...Seeing Sylvia Rivera homeless...should bring tears to your eyes. She - who once sheltered the homeless - fell victim to the same fate.

Sylvia gets to tell her story...she gets a semblance of closure whereas Marsha...well, Marsha will never get closure...not now, not ever...that's how 'icons' are created!

Lives led on the fringes of destitution...who would have thought then [certainly not them!] that their lives would be so influential now?!?

As fickle a community as we are...it's a step in the right direction...this righting of wrongs...thank you, Ms Victoria Cruz, for all your efforts. And, to you, Mr France...for framing these stories so perfectly.

RIP Marsha & Sylvia - I had the pleasure of meeting you both.


The(ir) Blurb...

Academy Award® nominated director David France’s (How to Survive a Plague) new documentary centers on self-described “street queen” Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender sex worker, who along with fellow trans icon Sylvia Rivera, founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.), a gay, trans, and gender-nonconforming activist group based in the heart of NYC’s Greenwich Village. Mysteriously, she was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, shortly after a legendary Pride March that drew friends and enemies alike. At the time, the NYPD pegged her death as a suicide, a claim that Marsha’s friends have always firmly rejected. Structured as a whodunit, with transgender activist Victoria Cruz cast as detective and audience surrogate, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson celebrates the lasting political legacy of Marsha P. Johnson while seeking to finally solve the mystery of her unexplained death.

—Loren Hammonds

Cast & Characters

Victoria Cruz as Herself;
Marsha P. Johnson as Herself;
Sylvia Rivera as Herself;
Taylor Mead as Himself;
Michael Baden as Himself;
Agosto Machado as Himself;
Vito Russo as Himself;
Kitty Rotolo as Herself;
Mark Segal as Himself;
Chelsea Goodwin as Herself;
Matt Foreman as Himself;
Karla Jay as Herself;
Randolfe Wicker as Himself;
Pat Bumgardner as Herself;
Coco Rodriguez as Herself

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