A Cinematic Docu-Mystery: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

Written by | Entertainment, Screen

marsha p. johnson

Photo courtesy of Netflix

In telling the story of Marsha P. Johnson, oscar-nominated director David France (How to Survive a Plague) also tells the story of the gay rights movement. Marsha was at the Stonewall riots leading the charge against cops who routinely harassed gays. She ended up on the front lines in part because, like so many trans individuals, she’d been pushed to the margins of society. That’s what this documentary is really about: those bold, beautiful individuals and the debt our community owes them for advancing the cause. One such woman — an old friend of Marsha’s named Victoria Cruz, leads us through the film on a quest to find out what really happened to Marsha before she was found floating dead in the Hudson River in 1992. The cops labeled her death a suicide and made no investigation (as the film explains they often dealt with homicides and disappearances of those who were regarded as unlikely to be missed). But Marsha is still loved by many who are sure she did not kill herself, and while there isn’t much footage of her, what we do see tells us a lot. Even when her clothes are askew or her makeup is not applied quite right, her whole face shines with a radiant warmth. THE WORD: Though Cruz may not find answers, she stirs important reminders of those who do not deserve to be forgotten. COMING TO: Home Video

Last modified: December 8, 2017