Southern Comfort (2001)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Gender Issues, Social Issues, Sexuality, Illnesses & Disabilities  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jason Clark

Kate Davis' remarkable, emotionally searing documentary earns its place as one of the strongest documentaries at the turn of the century not only because of its astute look at an underrepresented subculture, but in its open-hearted, utterly warm view of the subject. Using a formalist but heartfelt approach, Davis finds true intimacy with Robert Eads, introducing audiences to a fascinating and layered individual who sticks in the memory because of his sheer decency as a human being. More than being a chronicle of the injustices levied upon transsexuals -- who face discrimination and unfair medical treatment -- the film has a refreshing sense of honesty about Southern lifestyles and prejudice. It never succumbs to cheap sentimentality to get the viewer to empathize with the people portrayed. A fiercely intelligent filmmaker, Davis lets all of her work's extraordinary moments speak for themselves, and as a result, the film has an undeniable staying power; one feels better for having spent time with all the people onscreen. In a wonderful victory, Davis deservedly won the Grand Jury Prize for documentary feature at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.