Queen of the ring: Shaz Bennett, director of Alaska is a Drag, explains how latest film is a mirror reflection of her own life — Philadelphia Weekly

Every film festival has a few hidden gems, and the most notable one at PFF this year was Alaska Is a Drag, a winning drama directed by Shaz Bennett. Based on a short of the same name from 2012, Alaska Is a Drag—as the title should possibly make obvious—is about an aspiring drag performer in rural Alaska. But it goes a lot deeper than that.

Martin L. Washington, Jr. plays Leo, who spends his days working in a fish cannery in Alaska and his nights aspiring to drag superstardom, at the region’s lone gay bar. But he’s also… really good at fighting, skills learned from Bruce Lee movies and the necessity of surviving as an undersized gay black kid in that sort of environment, so in addition to drag performances the film also has boxing scenes.

He’s supported, though, by his cancer-fighting twin sister Tristen (Maya Washington), and theirs is one of the more compassionate, lived-in brother/sister relationships on screen in recent memory.

It’s going to be compared to Moonlight, for obvious reasons. But Alaska Is a Drag is a fine, enjoyable achievement in its own right. — Steven Silver / Today Philadelphia

In her enchanting feature debut writer/director Shaz Bennett spares no punches in showing how brutal and isolated Alaska can be especially if you are anything different than the norm. — Queerguru


PRESS for Director Shaz Bennett:

Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellows 2017 announced:

Independent Feature Projects selects 10 Films in final stages of finishing:

Sundance Institute Launches FilmTwo Initiative to Support Second Features including Director Shaz Bennett:

Feature Film ALASKA IS A DRAG takes big production prize at US in Progress:



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