BFI NETWORK x Film Hub Midlands - Pier Kids Documentary Spotlight
Monday 4 October 2021
With BSL Interpretation
To highlight the theatrical release of Elegance Bratton’s debut documentary feature PIER KIDS, distributed by new distributors Other Parties we invite you to join our webinar to hear from the films director, Elegance Bratton and producer, Chester Algernal Gordon. Hosted by filmmaker, artist and writer Topher Campbell, This webinar will give an insight into the process of making PIER KIDS, and the filmmakers' future plans and views on the documentary landscape for Black talent.
Elegance Bratton’s extraordinary and immersive documentary feature debut PIER KIDS follows three gay and transgender youth of colour who have found themselves homeless after coming out to their families, and find community and chosen family around New York City’s Christopher Street Pier.
Filmed over five years and shot on hand-held camera, the film is an intimate yet searingly honest portrayal of the palpable reality and marginalisation of living on the streets as a LGBTQ+ youth of colour.
With its official UK release from 8th October, Elegance and producer Chester Algernal Gordon take time out from their busy shooting schedule and sit down with guest host Topher Campbell to talk through how the documentary was made, the visual language of Pier Kids, how to direct the truth of the experience of coming of age outside and much more.
About the Host
Topher Campbell's 20+ year output spans broadcasting, theatre, performance, writing, experimental film and site-specific work. His focus has been on sexuality, masculinity, race, human rights, memoir and climate change. His films have appeared in festivals worldwide including his first film THE HOMECOMING, a meditation on art masculinity and sexuality, featuring commentary by Stuart Hall, now available to view on bfiplayer. His film FETISH, a collaboration with 2014 Mercury Music Prize Winner, Young Fathers is shot on the streets of New York. It was premiered at the Barbican Centre, London, Official Selection for the 2018 Aesthetica Short Film Festival and 2018 Scottish Queer International Film Festival. It was also a featured presentation at OOPS Festival Copenhagen and The British School in Rome in Rome, Italy. His latest film will be a documentary for B.E.T. Topher is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Patron of Switchboard and in 2017 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Sussex, England.
About the Filmmakers
Elegance Bratton (Director, Cinematographer, Executive Producer)
Elegance Bratton is an award-winning and boundary-breaking director, writer and producer. He began making films as a US Marine after spending a decade homeless on the streets of New York and has grown into one of the most trailblazing artists of his time. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, his work captures stories untold with honesty and verité.
In 2021, Bratton won the Film Independent Truer Than Fiction Spirit Award which is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The recipient of this award also receives a significant grant and becomes a Film Independent Fellow. He was also included on IndieWire’s 2019 list of LGBT faces to watch His nonfiction feature debut, “Pier Kids” has played more than 50 film festivals worldwide and received praise for its raw and truthful portrayal of survival and self-preservation on the streets of New York City as seen through the eyes of three LGBTQ+ young people of color. It made its television and streaming debut in August 2021 on PBS/POV. Currently, production is underway on Bratton’s feature film directorial debut “The Inspection,” which he also wrote. The film is produced by A24, Gamechanger Films and Chester Algernal Gordon via Bratton and Gordon’s Freedom Principle. The film was selected as a part Film Independent Producers Lab and Fasttrack (2019).
Bratton and Gordon are in post-production on their documentary feature, “Hell Fighter: The James Reese Europe Story”, a co-production with Five Fifty Five Films that highlights the story of African American Jazz pioneer and music mogul, James Reese Europe, who was a lieutenant in the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters. Europe started the first musical unions for African Americans in the United States, The Clef Club and The New Amsterdam Music Association Harlem. As a Black veteran himself, this story resonated heavily with Bratton and made for a uniquely familiar storytelling perspective. He made his television debut as the creator and executive producer of the Viceland television series “My House.” The 10-episode series was nominated in the category for Outstanding Documentary at the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards. The series is currently available on Hulu. His short film, “Buck,” premiered domestically at Sundance 2020 and the London Film Festival (BFI) 2020. His short film debut, “Walk for Me” was the winner of the 2017 Mexico International Film Festival Gold Palm Award and is available on Amazon Prime Video. Bratton holds a BS from Columbia University (2014) and MFA from NYU Tisch Graduate Film (2019).
Chester Algernal Gordon (Producer)
Chester Algernal Gordon has produced a fleet of acclaimed short films and Spirit Award -nominated feature documentary,’Pier Kids’. Gordon was a winner of the Tribeca Film Institute’s 2019, TFI All Access Grant and TFI Pond5 Grant. Gordon is a Film Independent 2019 Producing Lab & Fast Track Lab fellow.
Gordon’s films have been an official selection at over 200 festivals combined including Sundance, BFI, True/False, DOC NYC, New Orleans, Cleveland, Palm Springs, Blackstar and the American Black Film Festival. They’re also a producer for the MIPCOM 2018 winner - GLAAD nominated documentary TV series, ‘My House’, on Viceland. Gordon’s latest short “-Ship: A Visual Poem” won, best U.S. Narrative short at the 2020 Sundance film festival. They’re currently producing ‘The Inspection’ with Effie Brown and GameChanger films and ‘Hellfighter: The James Reese Europe Story’ with 555 Productions and Rainshine. Both films are directed by Elegance Bratton.