Going Behind the Scenes With LGBTQ+ Filmmakers Uncovering Queer Stories in New Hope, Pennsylvania
These five filmmakers are sharing the queer stories of a small town and we have all the images from their time on set.
Time on a film set is a period filled with highwire energy and the space to tell transformative stories. When the five filmmakers (Hansen Bursic, Joy Davenport, Natalie Jasmine Harris, Kase Peña, and Kristal Sotomayor) were selected as the inaugural class of the Creative Hope Initiative, they weren’t sure what to expect from their mentorship. But with clear guidance, openness to the process, and a strong vision, these five created unforgettable memories on set.
The Creative Hope Initiative, created by production studio TRAVERSE32, funded these five filmmakers to create short documentaries highlighting local queer stories in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Although New Hope has been an LGBTQ+ haven within the Pennsylvania countryside, their stories have rarely been shared. But the time has come for their stories to be told, and we have a sneak peek of what to expect from these short documentaries.
Scroll through to learn more about "Queer Cuts: New Hope" and BTS photos from each film.
equalpride has partnered with 'Queer Cuts: New Hope' as an exclusive media partner and will host all five short films online for free from November 6th to November 7th at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT on the Advocate Channel App for your mobile phone and your favorite streaming device.
Learn more about Creative Hope Initiative by visiting queercuts.com.
"Trans Heaven, Pennsylvania"
Filmmaker Hansen Bursic came to New Hope hoping to find out more about the history of their iconic gay bar, The Raven. His short documentary, Trans Heaven, Pennsylvania, explores the untold story of legendary weekend-long parties that saw hundreds of transgender women and crossdressers take over the town, traveling from all over the country to meet other people like them at the gay safe haven.
Through both interviews and stunning animation sequences that utilize never-before-seen archival photography, audiences not only get a glimpse into the heyday of these events in the early 2010s but also of the iconic gay bar that became the unlikely cornerstone of those liberating weekends.
Director Hansen Bursic (left) sits down with trans actress Gianna Marino (center) for a conversation on the street in New Hope being filmed by Director of Photography Mad Bishop (right).
Director Hansen Bursic and Director of Photography Mad Bishop stand to the left and right of Jennifer Lydon.
Four people from the Trans Heaven, Pennsylvania crew stand together. From L to R: Director of Photography Mad Bishop, Camera Operator & Gaffer Easton Carter Angle, Karleigh Webb, and Director Hansen Bursic.
"Don’t Cry For Me All You Drag Queens"
Another legend in the community like The Raven was Mother Cavallucci, the subject of Kristal Sotomayor’s short documentary. Don’t Cry For Me All You Drag Queens pays homage to the legendary Mother Cavallucci by weaving together the past and present to provide a striking portrait of belonging and memory. Poetically merging archival photographs and present-day footage from a community drag show, the film sparks conversation about the modern-day issues Mother Cavallucci revolutionized.
Joseph “Josie” Cavallucci (aka Mother Cavallucci) was a legendary New Hope drag queen that would host annual wedding celebrations in the ‘70s and ‘80s that served as fundraisers and a community party. The present-day drag show, hosted by Phoebe Manntrappe and Miss Pumpkin, served as an intergenerational community forum to honor the joy and memories of Mother.
Event Co-Host Phoebe Manntrappe (aka Kevin Gilmore) speaks with community member Jennifer Artur about her memories of Mother Cavallucci. (Photo by Ireashia M. Bennett)
Event Co-Host Phoebe Manntrappe (aka Kevin Gilmore) performs “Home” from The Wiz. (Photo by Ireashia M. Bennett)
Phoebe Manntrappe (aka Kevin Gilmore), Miss Pumpkin (aka Michael Gardener), and Miss Redd (aka Rusty Miller) pose at community event honoring Mother Cavallucci. (Photo by Ireashia M. Bennett)
Phoebe Manntrappe (aka Kevin Gilmore) poses for the camera as Director Kristal Sotomayor talks them through the shoot. (Photo by Ireashia M. Bennett)
"Ben In Bloom"
Natalie Jasmine Harris
Headshot courtesy of Jess X. Snow.
Someone sure to look up to Mother Cavallucci for their activism is Ben Busick, the subject of Natalie Jasmine Harris’ short documentary. In Ben In Bloom, Ben, a non-binary and queer teenager from the contentious Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is followed as they prepare to leave their hometown behind for college in California.
This short documentary nostalgically reflects on the moments that made Ben the confident queer teen advocate they are, but also the work left to be done to ensure safety for queer and trans teens to come.
The production team shooting at New Hope's Evolution Ice Cream. From L to R: Director Natalie Jasmine Harris, PA Ireashia M. Bennett, Producer Odalis Lopez. (Photo by Drew Swedberg)
B Cam Operator Jenny Desrosiers captures a shot. (Photo by Drew Swedberg)
Outtake shot by Director of Photography Anumeha Sinha of documentary participant Ben Busick at Rainbow Room's Open Mic Night.
Outtake shot by Director of Photography Anumeha Sinha of documentary participants Ben Busick and their mother Rose Lopresti Busick.
Another person looking for hope in their journey is filmmaker Kase Peña, whose documentary, Prada P***y, focuses on their research and consideration of getting vaginoplasty. In this short doc, Kase Peña travels to New Hope, Pennsylvania to research the possibility of having vulva vaginoplasty with Dr. Christine McGinn, one of the top surgeons in this field and a trans woman herself.
Director Kase Peña (center) interviewing Masha (right) with Director of Photography Will Brunker (left).
Director Kase Peña (left) interviewing Masha (right).
Director Kase Peña (left) shoots B-roll with Director of Photography Will Brunker (right).
Director Kase Peña (left) interviewing Dr. Christine McGinn (right).
"New Hope Rondo"
Rounding out the five filmmakers is Joy Davenport, whose documentary looks at the past of New Hope and how it informs the town's future. New Hope, PA, has a well-earned reputation for being a quirky bastion of acceptance, but recent real estate developments threaten to change the town's queer bohemian culture.
But New Hope is no stranger to cycles of displacement: the shift from industry to tourism in the early 20th Century transformed the town seemingly overnight; and the displacement of the Lenape people centuries earlier ended a 16,000 year period of indigenous stewardship. Weaving interviews together with centuries of archival materials, New Hope Rondo explores how gentrification has shaped this idyllic haven on the Delaware, for better and for worse.
Interviewing producing director Alex Fraser (offscreen) of the Bucks County Playhouse with Director Joy Davenport (left), Director of Photography Adam Narwot (center), and Sound Op. Sonia Szczesna (right). (Photo by Mad Bishop)
Director Joy Davenport capturing a cloudy morning on the Delaware River. (Photo by Mad Bishop)
Director Joy Davenport captures early morning B-roll in downtown New Hope. (Photo by Mad Bishop)
Director Joy Davenport hunting for a shot near Aquetong Creek in downtown New Hope. (Photo by Mad Bishop)