Cheryl Allison, a lesbian actress, director, and documentary filmmaker and an Emmy nominated, award-winning actress and director who has performed on Broadway, and in national tours, regional theatre, plus film and television for over 30 years, has agreed to accept the qFLIX Philadelphia2021 Artistic Achievement in Directing – Documentaries Award on October 2 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, along the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia, prior to the Mid-Atlantic Premiere of her newest documentary “Pieces Of Us.”
“Pieces Of Us” showcases the courage of those who’ve endured hate crimes and other horrific instances of bigotry, from New York to Denver to India.
For qFLIX this is an extremely humbling presentation. Cheryl is a powerhouse in her own right! “She is the founder, director, and producer of WOW FILMS, a production company that strives to create thought provoking stories that deepen our understanding of the human experience. After a successful film festival run, her award-winning documentary feature SHATTER THE SILENCE (2019) made its broadcast premiere on KERA PBS and has recently been distributed on Amazon Prime. Cheryl directed the critically acclaimed short film HIDING IN DAYLIGHT (2019) which was selected into 33 film festivals worldwide including the elite American Pavilion’s Emerging Filmmakers Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival.”
The producers of qFLIX believe that this was a natural selection especially after she had submitted her stellar documentary, “Pieces of Us,” for consideration to screen at qFLIX Philadelphia. One viewing of this documentary and the choice was clear, and the need obvious that Cheryl truly deserves this honor. Cheryl’s film epitomizes the mission of qFLIX, to share global LGBTQ+ stories with others.
Recently featured in the Advocate, under the headline, “New Doc Pieces of Us Honors Resilience of Those Who’ve Survived Hate,” we find a beautiful interview with Cheryl and an excellent presentation of the film.
The Advocate writes, “’This is a story of hope, this is a story of courage … no matter how you identify, you can see a piece of yourself in this story,’ Allison says. Unlike some other films about hate crimes and other horrific instances of bigotry, Pieces of Us isn’t primarily about those incidents, she says. ‘This was about what happens afterwards and how you handle it,’” she explains.
“Pieces of Us,” as reported in the Advocate, tells the stories of multiple subjects who have encountered hate. “Jipsta is a gay rapper and school psychologist in Brooklyn who was beaten on a New York City subway platform for holding hands with his partner. Leia Pierce is a single mother from Denver whose 9-year-old son, Jamel, took his own life after being bullied for being gay. Mykel Dicus is a gay New York performance artist who was physically attacked in his home by a man he met in a bar. Victoria Cruz is a transgender veteran of the Stonewall riots and longtime activist who was Dicus’s crisis counselor. Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of India, known as the world’s first out gay royal, received death threats after coming out and was initially disowned by his family. The movie shows how all have responded to traumatic events by becoming advocates for their community, and it spotlights other activists and allies as well.”
“Prince Manvendra, who came out in 2006, wanted to be a part of the film because “it’s always good to talk about these issues,” he says. ‘Film is a very good medium through which we can express many things. … If these stories come out on the screen, from the horse’s mouth, as I call it, then it definitely has a very big impact on the minds of the audience, it educates them, removes a lot of misconceptions.’”
Allison tells the Advocate that “this is a human story, a personal story,” she says. There’s new hope for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. with Joe Biden as president, after four horrific years under Donald Trump, she notes, but much remains to be done; likewise, Prince Manvendra feels India is going in the right direction. Both hope the film can advance the cause of equality worldwide.
“With this film, if people can listen to these stories and hear the humanity in it and start to grasp that we all are the same, then can that hopefully start to spark conversations?”
In attendance at qFLIX Philadelphia will be Cheryl Allison. qFLIX is currently waiting on confirmation from the film’s subjects, Prince Manvendra, and his husband, Victoria Cruz, Mykel, Leia Pierce, and Jipsta.
“Pieces of Us” will have it’s Mid-Atlantic premiere at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 7:30 PM, Saturday, October 2.