Pier Kids

Director: Elegance Bratton
2019 | USA | 84m
GENRE: Black/African American | Dance | Gay | Queer | Trans Women/Transfeminine | Transgender
SECTION: Documentary Features
Expected Guests: Features Q&A with Director Elegance Bratton, producer Chester Algernal Gordon, subject Krystal Labeija, and subject Daniella Carter.


“The problem in the West Village isn’t drugs or prostitution,” explains DeSean, “it’s the homeless youth who come to the area looking for a safe zone.” These pier kids—homeless queer and trans youth, almost universally POC—name themselves after the space they’ve claimed, the Hudson piers in lower Manhattan. Director Elegance Bratton (Walk for Me, Frameline41), himself a former pier kid, spent five years filming this “world within a world,” and the result is a raw portrait of a segment of the LGBTQ+ community that has been left behind in the rush to legalize marriage and obtain mainstream acceptance.

Bratton’s vérité camera plunges viewers into the midst of the chaos, following transwomen on the stroll, observing arguments, drag balls, and visits to uncomprehending relatives. The film also captures the more comfortable visitors to the piers, who sunbathe or pose for pictures in the renovated waterfront park, apparently oblivious to the kids. By the end of this urgent film, we no longer have that luxury—these kids are impossible to ignore.


This film contains depictions and discussions of transphobic violence.

Buying Note: This digital screening is available to view between 12:01am Thursday, September 17 and 11:59pm Sunday, September 27. We suggest watching it at 7:30pm Monday, September 21 followed by the Q&A.

Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Black X Film Festival, Tenderloin Museum, The Transgender District