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Call Her Ganda

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Call Her Ganda


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When 26-year old Filipina transgender woman and alleged sex worker, Jennifer Laude, is found dead with her head plunged into a motel room toilet, the perpetrator is quickly identified as 19-year-old U.S. marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. A military recruit in an unfamiliar land, Pemberton was on “liberty leave” when he solicited Jennifer at a disco. On discovering that Jennifer was transgender, he brutally murdered her, leaving her to be found by her friend and the motel receptionist.

Amidst a media storm and police inquiry, as Jennifer’s family copes with their loss, three women intimately invested in the case, pursue justice—taking on hardened histories of U.S. imperial rule that have allowed previous American perpetrators to evade consequence: An activist attorney, Virgie Suarez, who labors to reveal the truth of Jennifer’s death from inside the courtroom—in the face of strategic silences and sly legal maneuvers from Pemberton’s defense team. A transgender investigative journalist, Meredith Talusan, who determines to bring international attention to the case, writing sharp, in-the-fray essays for VICE, The Guardian and Buzzfeed. And Jennifer’s normally reserved mother, Julita, who finds herself at the affective center of a political uprising, inciting fellow protesters with a tenacious voice she never knew existed.

A modern David and Goliath story, Call Her Ganda follows a cast of willful women as they take on some of the most powerful institutions in the world. Fusing personal tragedy, human rights activism and the little known history, and complex aftermath, of U.S. imperial rule in the Philippines, Call Her Ganda forges a visually daring and profoundly humanistic geopolitical investigative exposé.

PJ Raval is more recently known as an award-winning filmmaker than he is an ex-scientist born on Tax Day. Growing up as a queer, first-generation Filipino American in a small, white, conservative town in California’s central valley, PJ’s outsider experience greatly shaped his filmmaking practice. PJ’s work explores the overlooked subcultures and identities within the already marginalized LGBTQ+ community. Named one of Out Magazine’s ‘OUT 100′ and IndieWIRE’s ‘25 LGBT Filmmakers on the Rise 2019’, PJ’s body of film work has been distributed widely internationally and has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, Bertha Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Sundance, Center for Asian-American Media, Tribeca Film Institute, Firelight Media, PBS, and the Ford Foundation. PJ is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, 2016 Firelight Media Fellow, 2017 Robert Giard Fellow, a Producers Guild of America member, and a recent member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

PJ’s previous feature documentaries include Before You Know It which follows the lives of three gay senior men (SXSW, Edinburgh International) hailed by Slant Magazine as “Exemplary…a documentary that successfully puts human faces on wider issues…” indieWIRE described the film as “A crucial new addition to the LGBT doc canon.” BEFORE YOU KNOW IT garnered several awards including “Best Documentary Jury Award” at the Reeling Chicago Gay and Lesbian Film Festival as well as the “Audience Award” at both the Austin LGBT Film Festival and Montreal’s image + nation 26 Film Festival. BEFORE YOU KNOW screened theatrically in over 50 theaters in the US, Canada and the U.K. and was broadcast as the season finale on America ReFramed on PBS’ World Channel earning PJ the NGLJA Queer Journalist Excellence in Documentary Award in 2016.

PJ also produced, directed, and shot (alongside collaborator Jay Hodges) the feature documentary Trinidad: Transgender Frontier which uncovers Trinidad, Colorado’s transformation from Wild West outpost to “sex change capital of the world..” Called “a must see” by Ellen Huang (GLAAD), TRINIDAD won the Cleveland International Film Festival “Documentary Jury Award” and was broadcast on SHOWTIME as well as MTV’s LOGO network, STARZ, and Discovery International and continues to reach audiences around the world.

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