Film Image
Mama Gloria
Producer: Yvonne Welbon & Zainab Ali
2020
Color
76 minutes
US
English

Mama Gloria

At a time when Black transgender women face escalating violence and make up the majority of transgender people murdered each year, Gloria Allen’s story is an inspiring portrait of aging seldom seen. Born in 1945, Gloria came of age amid the legendary drag balls on Chicago’s South Side. She transitioned four years before Stonewall with the support of the women in her family, including her mother Alma, a former showgirl and Jet magazine centerfold, and her grandmother Mildred, a seamstress who sewed clothes for crossdressers and male strippers. Never imagining that she would make it past 40, let alone 60 or 70, Gloria felt compelled to open a charm school for young homeless trans people in Chicago offering lessons on love, makeup and manners that she received from her mother and grandmother. Now, living alone in a building for LGBTQ seniors and surviving on social security and a house-cleaning job, Gloria continues to grow old with joy, dignity and grace.

A 2022 GLAAD Media Award nominee, MAMA GLORIA, Luchina Fisher’s empathic and engaging documentary, is not only a portrait of a groundbreaking legend, but also a celebration of unconditional love, the love Gloria received from her own mother and that she now gives to her chosen children. The film includes rarely seen archival images of Chicago’s Black drag balls, crossdressers and shake dancers. It features the original song Presence of a Legend by singer and trans activist Shea Diamond and pop songwriter Justin Tranter.
59 minute version also available for purchase and rental.
Reviews
“In the face of anti-trans bills, ‘Mama Gloria’ is a blessing.” - Scalawag
“...an inspirational film about life struggle, self-acceptance, and the beautiful transition of women aging gracefully.” - Irish Film Critic
“A dignified lady…and a film that does her justice.” - CGiii Film
“Both moving and entertaining.” - RogerEbert.com
Four stars. “A special film with an important message.” - Film Carnage
“‘Mama Gloria’ is truly an inspiring watch.” - Movie Maker
“An empowering portrait of a resilient, wise and infectiously joyous trans elder.” - The Queer Review
“Fisher’s debut documentary feature…is a love letter to the charismatic activist.” - Chicago Reader
Awards

• 2022 GLAAD Media Award Nominee for Outstanding TV Journalism – Long-form
• Best of Fest/Best Film, CineOdyssey Film Festival 2020
• Jury Award for Best Documentary, Teaneck International Film Festival 2020
• Black Lens Award, Milwaukee Film Festival 2021
• Nominated for Gold Q-Hugo Award and Best Documentary Feature, Chicago International Film Festival
• Finalist, Holidays 365 International Film Festival
Screenings
• Massimadi LGBTQ+ Afro Film Festival
• Chicago South Side Film Festival
• Black Alphabet Film Festival
• MIX Copenhagen Film Festival
• Reel Affirmations LGBTQ+ Festival
• CinemAfrica Film Festival
• Edmonton International Film Festival
• Chicago On Screen
• Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival
• Cincy Pride Film Festival
• Inside Out Film Festival
• Milwaukee Film Festival
• Holidays 365 International Film Festival
• Kansas City Film Festival
• Oxford Film Festival
• BFI Flare
• Athena Film Festival
• Denton Black Film Festival
• Teaneck International Film Festival
• Cineodyssey Film Festival
• Chicago International Film Festival
• New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT)
• LGBT Aging Network
• Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore
• ASALH Conference
• Unitarian Church of the Desert
• Inside Out Youth Services
• Time Out Youth
• Jefferson Madison Regional Library
• George Mason University
• Human Rights Campaign Special Screening
• Gene Siskel Film Center, Theatrical Release
Pricing & Ordering
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K-12, Public Libraries & Select Groups DVD Sale $80.00
Non-Theatrical/Educational Blu-Ray Rental $300.00
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TWN acknowledges that in New York we are on the unceded territory of the Lenni Lenape, Canarsie, Shinecock, and Munsee peoples and challenges the harm that continues to be inflicted upon Indigenous and People of Color communities here and abroad, which is why we all need to be part of the struggle for rights, equality and justice.

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