REEL / PRESS / AWARDS

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

 

Queen of the ring: Shaz Bennett, director of Alaska is a Drag, explains how latest film is a mirror reflection of her own life.

-- Philadelphia Weekly

 

ALASKA IS A DRAG weaves its own gendered dichotomy into a character study of put-upon young dreamer who desperately needs the mental escape both drag and boxing offer.  Washington does an incredible job of making that character a 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.  

-- Swampflix

 

Martin L. Wahington Jr. as Leo, and Maya Washington as Tristen, provide colourful performances which remind the audience that imagination is a function of memory.  -- JA Magazine

 

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

 

Bennett's story is one of hope, which seems to be otherwise in short supply in this godforsaken corner of the world -- or the world in general. -- Ft. Lauderdale Press

 

Every film festival has a few hidden gems, and the most notable one at PFF this year was Alaska Is a Drag, a winning drama directed by Shaz Bennett. Based on a short of the same name from 2012, Alaska Is a Drag—as the title should possibly make obvious—is about an aspiring drag performer in rural Alaska. But it goes a lot deeper than that. Martin L. Washington, Jr. plays Leo, who spends his days working in a fish cannery in Alaska and his nights aspiring to drag superstardom, at the region’s lone gay bar. But he’s also… really good at fighting, skills learned from Bruce Lee movies and the necessity of surviving as an undersized gay black kid in that sort of environment, so in addition to drag performances the film also has boxing scenes. He’s supported, though, by his cancer-fighting twin sister Tristen (Maya Washington), and theirs is one of the more compassionate, lived-in brother/sister relationships on screen in recent memory. In her enchanting feature debut writer/director Shaz Bennettspares no punches in showing how brutal and isolated Alaska can be especially if you are anything different than the norm. -- Queerguru

 

8 Standout Films to See at This Year’s Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia -- VOGUE

 

25 Filmmakers to Watch -- Filmmaker Magazine

 


EXHIBITIONS

SMITHSONIAN AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM

DURBAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

URBANWORLD

PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

HAWAII INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE FLARE LONDON

FRAMELINE & FRAMELINE ENCORE

OUTFEST FILM FESTIVAL

CHATTANOOGA

LEEDS QUEER FESTIVAL

more at ALASKAISADRAG.com

AWARDS

Best Narrative Feature -- Smithsonian African-American Film Festival

Best Feature, Best Score -- New Filmmakers LA

Special Jury Mention for "Exquisite Directing, outstanding Ensemble Cast and Cinematography" -- Urbanworld Film Festival

Winner Best Narrative Feature -- Chattanooga Film Festival Shindig

Audience Award Best Narrative Feature -- Leeds Film Festival

Best Feature Film -- Jerome Film Festival

Tulsa American Film Festival -- Best Feature, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematography