Harvey Fierstein New York France city Venice transgender photography Trans Harvey Fierstein New York France city Venice

Toronto Doc ‘Casa Susanna’ Opens Doors on Early Postwar Trans and Cross-Dressing Community

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Jennie Punter Tucked in a corner of the Catskills, Casa Susanna was a modest private resort where cross-dressing heterosexual men and transgender women gathered on summer weekends through the 1950s and ‘60s to live as their true selves, dressed in the ladies’ fashion of the day and engaging in bourgeois social activities such as taking snapshots.

Over the past 15 years, a handful of articles, academic research, and photography exhibitions (and let’s not forget the 2014 Tony-nominated play by Harvey Fierstein) have gradually opened the door to this secret subculture of Cold War America.

Now “Casa Susanna,” a new documentary by French filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz (“Wild Side,” “Little Girl”), flings it open. Following a warmly received world premiere in Venice and screenings this week in Toronto, “Casa” lands this fall at BFI London Film Festival and select U.S.

and international festivals. PBS Intl., which has global rights and is receiving strong interest, is planning an awards campaign for this year.

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