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SOUTHERN COMFORT

USA, 2000 (MIFF 2001, Documentaries)

Director: Kate Davis

Southern Comfort is a wonderfully humanistic portrait of transgendered life as lived deep inside Ku Klux Ktan territory, in the rural trailer community of Toccoa Georgia. Robert Eads is a female-to-male transsexual suffering from ovarian cancer facing sure death after 20 doctors refused to treat him for his condition. He has no compunction about labeling himself trailer trash, Eads speaks in a slow cadence, taking a pull on his pipe and drawing his long, lined face into a grin, his wiry patch of facial hair giving him the look of a Cheshire cat.

Southern Comfort almost feels like a film about a Southern fella spinning a tall tale about things that he couldn't possibly have seen. Questions of sexual orientation, operative transitioning and discrimination are effortlessly explored as the subjects freely open up their lives to the camera.

Raw, emotional and provocative, Southern Comfort sent shock waves through this years Sundance Film Festival, despite being as much about generosity, courage and tolerance as about a potentially discomfiting subject. The resolute kindness that helps Eads build a community of friends and loved ones is what gives Southern Comfort its punch. In his last days, he says of his foes, "I can't hate 'em, I feel sorry for 'em".

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