USA / 2000 / English / Color / 35mm (1:1.85) / 90 min
Director, Photography, Editing, Producer: Kate Davis
Sound, Co-producer: Elizabeth Adams
Music: Joel Harrison
Production Company, Source: Q Ball Productions
World Sales: Films Transit International
402 East Notre-Dame, Montréal QC H2Y 1C8 CANADA
Phone: 1-514-844-3358 Fax: 1-514-844-7298
Set against the backdrop of rural Georgia in the American South, this film offers us a glimpse into the life of Robert Eads. Born female, Robert married and raised two sons as a woman, then chose to live the rest of his life as a man. We also meet Lola, born male and now living as a woman. Overcoming prejudice, the two fell in love. When Robert contracts ovarian cancer (20 doctors refused him medical treatment), Lola remains by his side, praying for his recovery. This film quietly watches them as they attempt to live their lives, emphasizing the social realities that surround them.
[Directors Statement] Southern Comfort represents most clearly my approach to documentaries as quietly political narratives. I met Robert Eads in 1998, at an FTM (female-to-male) convention in Maryland, and Robert spoke about his ovarian cancer, how he was denied treatment, how he felt like a traitor to his body while giving birth to two sons. I called him a week later, and he agreed to go public for the first time in his life. “I knew you’d call,” he said. But the production was a risky proposition. Robert was dying. I had no time to raise money, and I was entering a delicate situation out in rural Georgia, far from my own New York family. Furthermore, I work mostly a director and editor, but I bought a DV camera and did the filming myself, sometimes while recording sound as a one-person crew.
The greatest risk of the film, however, was taken by those who appear in Southern Comfort, who live closeted lives in the South. Transgendered people are still considered sub-human by many, and often face rejection by their families, friends, employers. And they are targets of violence if spotted in public.
Still, Robert and his friends agreed to take a great risk and participate in the filming. As Robert once told me, “If this film helps one other trans-man go to a doctor, or changes the heart of one straight person, then it’s worth it.”
Born in 1960. Began making films while at Harvard University, and has made documentaries on a range of subjects. Theatrical films include Girltalk, a feature-length film about three abused, runaway girls, A World Alive, Requiem for the Planet, Total Baby and Vacant Lot. Producer of documentaries like the critically acclaimed Transgender Revolution, a documentary on the gender community’s fight for civil rights, for America’s A&E cable network. Editing credits include Paris Is Burning and Sherman’s March to the Sea.
• International Competition | Angelos’ Film | A2 | Buenaventura Durruti, Anarchist | Crazy | Days in Those Mountains | La Devinière | Gaea Girls | Grandma’s Hairpin | In Vanda’s Room | The Land of the Wandering Souls | Mysterious Object at Noon | Paragraph 175 | Private Chronicles. Monologue | 6 Easy Pieces | Southern Comfort • Jurors | Hartmut Bitomsky | Bernard Eisenschitz | Ann Hui | Kuroki Kazuo | Ivars Seleckis