Alaska Is a Drag

Director: Shaz Bennett
2017 | USA | 83m
GENRE: Black/African American | Camp | Comedy | Dance | Drag | Drama | Gay | Gender | Genderqueer | Homophobia | Music/Music Videos | Musical | Queer | Relationships | Romance | Sexuality | Sports | Theatre/Performance Art | Violence
Expected Guests: Director, Shaz Bennett & Actor, Martin L. Washington

Writer-director Shaz Bennett has expanded her memorable short film of the same name (Frameline37) into a rousing and crowd-pleasing debut feature that is the queer lovechild of Rocky and Hedwig. Ready to emerge from his drag chrysalis, daydreamer Leo (Martin L. Washington, Jr.) lives in small-town Alaska, working long days in the local cannery — slicing fish while fantasizing about international superstardom.

When he’s not throwing shade and dodging the homophobic town bully, he cares for his tough yet adoring twin sister, Tristen (Maya Washington). The twins’ mother (Nia Peeples), a boozy former beauty queen, skipped town for Los Angeles a decade earlier, and their conflicted father spends most of his time gambling or preaching about Jesus. When the cannery boss (Jason Scott Lee), who moonlights as the local boxing coach, sees Leo’s natural talent for throwing punches, he asks Leo to train for an upcoming bout. The feisty young queen accepts and finds a mysterious training partner in a handsome new townie named Declan (Matt Dallas).

Cinematic Alaskan scenery provides the perfect setting as the sparring partners conjure up romantic sparks, both tense and tender, together. Featuring a culturally diverse cast full of talented newcomers, fabulously entertaining musical interludes, and a supporting turn from previous Frameline Award recipient Margaret Cho as the sardonic owner of the local gay bar, Alaska Is a Drag is a joyous and affirming knockout.


Museum of the African Diaspora / NIA Collective