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Netflix Buys Documentary ‘The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson’

Variety logo Variety 6/2/2017 Dave McNary
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Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to David France’s documentary “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The documentary is a look at the 1992 murder of a transgender legend, known as “the Rosa Parks of the LGBT movement.” The film is France’s follow-up to his Academy Award-nominated “How to Survive a Plague.”

“The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” is presented by Public Square Films. L.A. Teodosio produced and Joy A. Tomchin and Sara Ramirez (“Grey’s Anatomy”) served as executive producers. The film will launch globally on Netflix later this year.

Marsha P. Johnson was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992 and the NYDP initially ruled Johnson’s death as a suicide. The film follows crime-victim advocate Victoria Cruz’s efforts to reexamine what happened and measure the challenges that still face the community.

Johnson played a pivotal role in the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and joined with Sylvia Rivera to form the world’s first trans-rights organization, STAR (Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries) in 1970.

Nick Schager gave the film a strong review for Variety: “In her story, ‘The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson’ presents a portrait of the rough road that so many trans people have been forced to travel, as well as a possible blueprint for a more triumphant way forward.”

“Almost single-handedly, Marsha P. Johnson and her best friend Sylvia Rivera touched off a revolution in the way we talk about gender today,” said France. “Their names should be household words. But Marsha’s life was cut tragically short and Sylvia died shortly thereafter, the victim of a broken heart. Getting to know their story through the investigation undertaken by Victoria Cruz, a seminal activist in her own right, has been one of the great honors of my career. Now, with Netflix as our distribution partner, I am confident the legacy of these tremendous women will never be forgotten.”

The film will be screened at the upcoming Outfest in Los Angeles. Submarine negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.

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