Port Authority


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Port Authority
"Danielle Lessovitz’s first feature exudes a quiet confidence in her material." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

With echoes of Midnight Cowboy in its grainy evocation of New York’s night time underbelly, Danielle Lessovitz’s first feature exudes a quiet confidence in her material.

Set in the ‘Kiki ballroom’ voguing scene, she deals with the deep-rooted need to create families and communities to support individuals who are trying to find their way. At its core is an affecting love story between a transitioning femme queen Wye (played by transgender-model-turned-actress Leyna Bloom) and the tousle-haired Fionn Whitehead, as Paul, who comes to the city from Pittsburgh to find his sister and carve a new life.

The mainly nighttime action is book-ended by the Port Authority bus terminal, where the youngster arrives on a Greyhound bus and looks completely lost. He gets beaten up on the subway within the first few minutes and is taken up by McCaul Lombard as Lee who seems friendly enough if a shade over-macho. He works as the member of a semi-legal gang who confront those who have defaulted on their rent - and extract payments.

Paul joins them albeit reluctantly and is provided with bed in a rooming hostel for the homeless and begins to create a new world. He is also welcomed in to Wye’s universe of the black, gay transgender ball culture.

It’s all shot in naturalistic fashion by cinematographer Jomo Fray, with Lessovitz displaying an adept ability for creating contrasting communities and finding a real chemistry between the two leads Bloom and Whitehead.

She uncovers far more here than a traditional coming-of-age story while finding fresh vigour as well as warmth on the familiar mean streets of New York.

Reviewed on: 20 May 2019
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A love story about a Midwesterner and a trans woman, set in New York's Kiki ballroom scene.

Director: Danielle Lessovitz

Writer: Danielle Lessovitz

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Leyna Bloom, McCaul Lombardi

Year: 2019

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: US


Cannes 2019

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