2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ON SCREEN

DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ON SCREEN | Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Sam Feder explores the representation of transgender lives in film and television.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

This unprecedented documentary offers an eye-opening look at transgender depictions in film and television, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures our deepest anxieties about gender. Leading trans thinkers and creatives, including Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Mj Rodriguez, Jamie Clayton, and Chaz Bono, share their personal reactions and resistance to gender stereotypes in some of Hollywood’s most beloved moments. Grappling with films like A FLORIDA ENCHANTMENT, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, and BOYS DON’T CRY, and with shows like ALL IN THE FAMILY, THE L WORD, and POSE, DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ON SCREEN traces a history that is dehumanizing yet also evolving, complex, and at times humorous. Examining this collective narrative provides a striking view of how our perceptions of trans characters have been shaped through the decades.

Insightful trans director Sam Feder confronts unexamined assumptions, reframing familiar scenes and iconic characters through a new lens. Where JERRY SPRINGER and ACE VENTURA once captured the American imagination, they now elicit new feelings. DISCLOSURE provokes a startling revolution in how we see and understand trans people – but also media itself.

Some Background:


  • Sam Feder

    This is Feder’s third documentary feature, following BOY I AM, which followed three FTMs through their transitions; and KATE BORNSTEIN IS A QUEER & PLEASANT DANGER, on the pioneering gender outlaw. He previously worked on the crew of Sundance alumni fiction feature MY BEST DAY.


  • Amy Scholder

    Scholder is a veteran in the publishing world, having served as editorial director of the Feminist Press, US publisher of Verso, and editor of City Lights Books, among others, and on the board of directors of Lambda Literary. This marks her first producing credit.

Consulting Producers:

  • Catherine Gund
    Past Sundance docs:

    AMERICA (2019, short, producer)
    WHOSE STREETS? (2017, consulting producer)

    The Emmy-nominated Gund produces through Aubin Pictures, which she founded in 1996 following extensive activist video work centered around HIV/AIDS activism and the LGBTQ community through the ACT UP/NY video collective, DIVA TV, and Paper Tiger Television. Gund also directed/produced fellow 2020 Documentary Premieres title AGGIE.

  • Jenni Olson
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE ROYAL ROAD (2015, director/producer)
    575 CASTRO ST (2009, short, director/producer)
    THE JOY OF LIFE (2005, director)
    TRAILER CAMP (1996, director)

    Olson is veteran of the LGBTQ+ film world as filmmaker, festival programmer, historian, and critic. She also directed the Sundance alumni fiction short MEEP MEEP! and was a consulting producer of the alumni fiction feature BY HOOK OR BY CROOK.

  • Susan Stryker

    Stryker is professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Arizona, currently a visiting professor at Yale, an author, and occasional filmmaker focusing on LGBTQ+ history and culture.

Associate Producers:

  • Paul Hilepo

    Hilepo runs the management company PH Entertainment Group and serves as Laverne Cox’s manager. He previously was an agent for 25 years with the Hartig Hilepo Agency.

  • Alex Schmider

    Schmider is associate director, media and representation for GLAAD, where he consults on film, television, and other entertainment projects.

Executive Producers:

  • Laverne Cox

    Cox is an Emmy-nominated actress, Emmy-winning producer, and equal rights activist best known for her role as Sophia in ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, for which she was the first transgender actress to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy. She also appears in the 2020 fiction features BAD HAIR (Midnight) and PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (Premieres).

  • Caroline Libresco

    Libresco is a film festival programmer and documentary producer. She most recently was a senior programmer and director of Catalyst and the Women’s Initiative at Sundance, where she had an 18 year tenure until her departure last year.

  • Laura Gabbert
    Past Sundance docs:

    CITY OF GOLD (2015)
    NO IMPACT MAN (2009)

    Documentary filmmaker Gabbert also produced Sundance alumni fiction feature GETTING TO KNOW YOU.

  • Abigail E Disney
    Recent past Sundance docs:

    BENDING THE ARC (2017)

    Disney is an Emmy-winning filmmaker, philanthropist, and CEO/president of Fork Films. She also executive produced 2020 Sundance fiction feature THE ASSISTANT in the Spotlight section.

  • Lynda Weinman
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE GREAT HACK (2019)
    CHASING CORAL (2017)
    UNREST (2017)

    Weinman is a founder of the LinkedIn-acquired online software training website Lynda.com. She previously worked in animation and special effects for Hollywood studio films and taught digital media and graphics. Weinman also executive produced this year’s THE SOCIAL DILEMMA in Documentary Premieres, US KIDS in the US Documentary Competition, and THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.


Why You Should Watch:
Taking an approach similar to THE CELLULOID CLOSET, but explicitly focused on trans representation, Sam Feder presents a thought-provoking tour through the history of mainstream entertainment, tracking how much things have – and have not – changed, and the power and influence images have on us all.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artist Profile

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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