Before working in film (Writer/Director/Producer: ALASKA IS A DRAG) and television (Writer/Producer: THE GLADES,
UnREAL, BOSCH Director: QUEEN SUGAR) – Shaz worked in a fish cannery; bartended at a mafia bar; was a film programmer at Sundance, LA Film Festival and AFI FEST; peddled liquor undercover;
developed films for actor Giancarlo Esposito; and was Cher’s stand-in for a day. Her films and performance pieces have been seen in festivals, theatres, museums and abandoned warehouses all over
the United States, Mexico, Canada, South Africa and Europe. One of 8 women selected to the prestigious AFI Directing Workshop for Women, nominated as one of Fox's Top 20, Sundance Screenwriting
Labs 2017 with director Crystal Moselle (THE WOLFPACK), and Fox's inaugural Franchise Directing program (DIE HARD). Shaz's original pilot THE SALT FLATS was included as one of the top unproduced
scripts written by women for WeForShe this year.
Shaz's debut feature film ALASKA IS A DRAG -- written & directed by Shaz Bennett, starring Martin L. Washington Jr, Maya Washington, Matt Dallas, Christopher O'Shea, Jason Scott Lee, Margaret Cho, John Fleck, Kevin Daniels, Nia Peeples, Adam Tomei -- in festivals now.
UPCOMING SCREENINGS: http://alaskaisadrag.com
Every film festival has a few hidden gems, and the most notable one at PFF (Philadelphia Intl. Film Festival this year was ALASKA IS A DRAG, a winning drama directed by Shaz Bennett... 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.
ALASKA IS A DRAG weaves its own gendered dichotomy into a character study of a put-upon young dreamer who desperately needs the mental escape both drag & boxing offer. Washington does an incredible job of making that character a thorough joy to watch, as Bennett deftly backs him up with a colorful fantasy world backdrop that emerges from between the cracks of a grim, industrial setting.
The use of juxtaposition in Bennett’s work is refreshing, as Leo is sent tumbling head first into the glamorous world of drag and the bloodied, tough-as-nails world of boxing at the same time. The needle is carefully threaded, as Leo’s speed and foot movement on stage becomes one of his strongest assets in the ring. Martin L Washington’s Leo glides effortlessly from bruises to rouge and back again.
-- Gay Themed Films we love
ALASKA IS A DRAG
Honorable Mention for "Exquisite Directing, outstanding Ensemble Cast and Cinematography" -- Urbanworld Film Festival
Winner Best Narrative Feature -- Chattanooga Film Festival Shindig
Audience Award Best Narrative Film Festival -- Leeds Film Festival