The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson examines the 1992 murder of trans pioneer, activist and icon Marsha P. Johnson—and Netflix just picked it up for distribution.
Johnson's body was discovered floating in the Judson river in July of 1992, not long after New York's Pride march that year. NYPD officers first ruled the death to have been a suicide, but friends insisted Johnson had been a victim of murder, and the case was finally reopened decades later. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, directed by David France, follows activist Victoria Cruz in her quest for the truth, and her plight to bring to the public eye those challenges still facing the trans community every day.
Johnson, along with her friend Sylvia Rivera, was a leader of the gay rights movement, and one of the key players in the pivotal Stonewall Riots of 1969. Along with Rivera, she founded the first ever trans rights organization, STAR (Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries), in 1970.
France is known for his documentary about the AIDS epidemic in '80s New York, How To Survive A Plague, which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards.
“Almost single-handedly, Marsha P. Johnson and her best friend Sylvia Rivera touched off a revolution in the way we talk about gender today,” France told Variety. “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 Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson will screen at OutFest in Los Angeles this summer and appear on Netflix later this year.