Film by PJ Raval tells the story of trans Filipino woman killed by U.S. Marine
Call Her Ganda, PJ Raval's award-winning documentary about a Filipino woman who was killed by a U.S. Marine on shore leave in the Philippines, will be released in theaters within weeks, under terms of a deal announced Thursday.
Breaking Glass Pictures acquired North American rights to the film and will back it as an Oscar contender this fall, the company said in a press release. Call Her Ganda will open in New York September 21, in L.A. September 28 and in San Francisco October 5, with a national rollout to follow.
Call Her Ganda is that rare film that comes along once in a generation.
Call Her Ganda explores the circumstances around the death of Jennifer Laude, 26, whose body was discovered in a hotel room in Olongapo in October 2014. She had gone there with 19-year-old U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton after meeting him in a bar. Pemberton, who had been participating in U.S. military exercises in the Philippines, was subsequently arrested and charged with killing Laude by strangling her and pushing her head into a toilet. Pemberton claimed the pair got into a fight after he discovered she was transgender, but he denied killing her.
Laude's death triggered protests not only by the LGBT community, but among Filipinos disturbed by the continued U.S. military presence in their country and a Visiting Forces Agreement that some would argue shields U.S. military personnel from accountability when they commit crimes.
This just-released clip gives a sense of the scale of the protests over the shocking incident.
Call Her Ganda won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival this spring and additional honors from L.A.'s Outfest, the Toronto Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival and the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.
"I’m thrilled to be working with Breaking Glass who is dedicated to bringing the story of Jennifer Laude to audiences nationwide," Raval said in a statement.
"Call Her Ganda," added Breaking Glass CEO Richard Wolff, "is that rare film that comes along once in a generation. This story is tragic, empowering, and exactly what our society needs right now to move the conversation about human rights forward.”
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.