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Southern Comfort

40 customer reviews

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(Mar 25, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Rarely has a film garnered such high levels of critical praise as SOUTHERN COMFORT a breakout hit and winner at nearly 20 major film festivals including the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. From Seattle to Florida from San Francisco to Berlin SOUTHERN COMFORT has mesmerized audiences and critics alike with its rare blend of humor tragedy and romance. At the heart of SOUTHERN COMFORT is a beautiful and remarkable love story more touching and captivating than anything fiction could ever create. With a masterful eye for emotional detail award-winning filmmaker Kate Davis takes us to the back hills of Georgia and into the world of Robert Eads a 52-year-old wise-cracking cowboy warm and gregarious who was born female and later transitioned into living as a man after bearing two sons. The film finds Robert fifteen years later during the extraordinary last year of his life as he falls headlong into a passionate romance with Lola a vivacious and magnetic woman who was born male. One of the most remarkable documentaries of our time about gender family and love relationships SOUTHERN COMFORT is an illuminating and deeply moving film--a world of contradictions where good old boys who drive pick-up trucks and shoot the breeze around the barbecue double as 21st century pioneers courageously forging a new world for themselves and for us. DVD Features: Deleted Scenes; Cast Interviews; Exclusive Photo Gallery; Filmmaker and Additional Crew Biographies; Filmmaker Statement; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

As Robert Eads puts it in one of the first scenes of this remarkable documentary, he lives in "Bubba-land"--which wouldn't be unusual if Robert weren't a female-to-male transsexual. Southern Comfort chronicles the last year of Robert's life, as he succumbed to, ironically, cervical cancer; over that year, documentarian Kate Davis developed an amazing intimacy with Robert and his adopted family of other transsexuals living in the depths of Georgia, including his vivacious male-to-female transsexual girlfriend Lola. The film's title comes from an annual gathering that Robert describes as "the cotillion of the trans community, the coming-out party"--an event part convention, part high school prom. Every scene testifies to both the enormous difficulties they face and the grace, humor, and sheer will with which they take it all on. It's not surprising Southern Comfort has won numerous awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. --Bret Fetzer

Special Message from Kate Davis, Director of Southern Comfort.

This June marks the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots. In June of 1969, for the first time, transgendered and gay youth fought back against the police because they were fed up with oppression, and many felt they had nothing to lose by risking their lives and throwing bricks at the establishment. To the amazement of many during those violent nights, they found they had a collective voice. This grew into the annual Gay Pride parades which continue across the world, all testaments to the power of speaking out.

These themes of courage and stepping out of the closet were also the backbone of Southern Comfort. When I met Robert Eads at a conference for transgendered men, I found myself living with a very hidden minority, hidden because they pass so well as men, and hidden to protect themselves against the daily perils of living as a transperson in a world which still persecutes them and makes every day a dangerous prospect.

The men in Southern Comfort were fine living their regular lives, and hardly jumped at the chance to be part of a documentary. In fact, Robert himself resisted for months, and one day called to tell me that he was up for it. That he would be dead by the time the film would be finished. And so we all started to help tell Robert's extraordinary tale of being a transman, a parent, a shotgun-toting guy who can pass for a classic Redneck from rural Georgia, and as someone who was falling in love during the final year of his life. During the filming, I began to hear one recurring idea: the importance of accepting oneself. From that comes the strength to live a more honest life, and from that comes the chance to open up the hearts and minds of others.

And so the six main people in Southern Comfort, most of whom had survived rejection from their families, friends, employers, and the medical world, decided it was time to speak out and let others know how that feels. That they are human too. Many times at the end of a shoot, I would fly back from Atlanta feeling inspired by their strength - wouldn't it be great if we all could simply accept ourselves? - but also I felt outraged that such prejudice still exists and continues to kill.

Southern Comfort has, since then, reached millions of people around the world. There was even a town in rural Japan which celebrated "Robert Eads Day." Those in the film now know they did a lot to help break down stereotypes about those society condemns for being different. In a quieter way, the film reflects the spirit which was needed to ignite the Stonewall riots. Enough hiding. Time to be on an equal footing with everyone else. In the end, this isn't a story of GLBT rights or transgendered rights, but of human rights.

- Kate Davis, Director, Southern Comfort

Stills from Southern Comfort (Click for larger image)

Special Features

  • Deleted scenes
  • Cast interviews
  • Exclusive photo gallery
  • Filmmaker statement

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Eads, Lola Cola, Maxwell Scott Anderson, Cas Piotrowski, Corissa Anderson
  • Directors: Kate Davis
  • Producers: Kate Davis, Elizabeth Adams, Nancy Abraham, Sheila Nevins
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: March 25, 2003
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000089725
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,342 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Southern Comfort" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By E. Karasik on October 27, 2003
Format: DVD
This sensitive documentary chronicles the lives several gender-bending and mind-bending sets of transsexual couples. The central character, who has become a man, is ironically dying of ovarian cancer. He was repeatedly refused treatment by the medical establishment because of his identity as a transsexual. The unconventionality of these individuals is touchingly contrasted with their fight for basic human rights, and their desire to enjoy the simple pleasures of domestic life taken for granted by most Americans. Despite some petty differences, they achieve compassion, humor, and tolerance in their interractions among themselves and with their "straight" families and friends. The dignity of their struggle brilliantly reveals that it is actually "mainstream" culture which is freakish, both in terms of its outrageous persecution and its irrational phobia of them. The final line of the film really stayed with me (I'm paraphrasing): "Nature delights in diversity, why can't human beings?" I was tempted to give the film five stars but I felt the cinematography could have been more creative and the editing could have been tighter. In terms of content, though, this film has a rare and transformative vision which would merit the highest rating.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 10, 2003
Format: DVD
SOUTHERN COMFORT is everything documentary films (or 'docurama' as the film makers call it) should be: it is honest, illuminating, straight-forward, and technically well made. Kate Davis has given us insight into a community that is sadly neglected by society at large - the transgender community of male to female and female to male who are caourageous enough to follow their convictions that they were born with the wrong body. The film documents the last four seasons in the life of Robert Eads, a warm, crusty guy who was denied full gender change surgery by the medical profession in Georgia and thus still retains his cervix and uterus which have become malignant and eventually cause his death. His extended family of two other female to male friends (one of whom was given a botched breast reduction by the same medical profession), the two wives of these men (one a genetic female who had been married 7 times before to extremely abusive genetic males), Robert's love Lola Cola (a male to female woman of beautiful warmth and support, and Robert's own biological son (who still calls Robert 'Mom') and grandson. To see the way this quiet and lovely group of people stand tall in a world that despises them, who look forward to the annual Southern Comfort Weekend where transgendered people gather to nurture and celebrate each other, and who invite us into thier private lives is simply a beautiful experience for the viewer. Where other less sensitive directors could have made this film a sensational expose, Kate Davis has elected to keep it tender and true. Kudos to all concerned. This film should be in the archives of all Gender Studies programs.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By K. Arford on January 13, 2006
Format: DVD
This is one of the best documentary films i have ever seen. PLEASE WATCH THIS, no matter who you are!! The amazing strength of this film is that the transgendered individuals whose lives are chronicled are not portrayed as in any way strange, bizarre, or freakish...they are portrayed as what they really ARE...fully **human**....compassionate heart-and-soul human beings...and not even the most homophobic viewer could miss that message. This is real, it's powerful, and trust me, have some tissues on hand.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sophie on January 1, 2005
Format: DVD
This is a beautifully made documentary about the last year in the life of Robert Eads, who was denied treatment for his cancer just because he is a member of a heavily descriminated minority. It is obviously a low budget film, but well edited and the story is told in a compelling manner. I became caught up in the emotion of the film and became angry at the injustice. Robert comes across as a lovable and loving human being who does not deserve the fate handed to him. We come to know Robert and his circle of friends, including Robert's girlfriend Lola, all of whom struggle with Robert's fate. This documentary won many awards and it shows. It also has aired on the Sundance channel and HBO.

I also recommend the bonus features on this DVD, especially the additional footage of Robert that had been cut from the final film. The additional footage gives more background on how Robert attempted to seek treatment for his cancer and was denied. He also says some touching things about his parents and their acceptance of Robert's life.

Give this film a chance, and it will open your heart as well as your mind. Please see it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stephen G. Shumate on December 5, 2005
Format: DVD
that looks a lot like this one. A good movie, like a good novel, takes you into the world of the character. You walk a mile in his shoes. You develop empathy. That is absolutely what happens in this amazing film. This is not a "Hollywood" version "based on a true story". You watch the story unfold in real life, with real people - amazingly ordinary people who offer a glimpse of their extraordinary souls. You get to know their everyday lives, their joys, and ultimately the sorrow that they are moving toward in this period of their lives. My one complaint is that the editing is a little lax on the central character. Perhaps the film maker could not bear to take more away from a man who was losing so much already. The transsexualism here is appropriately handled as an aside. It does not define the story or the people. This is a tragic story of injustice that nonetheless reveals the power of unconditional love and acceptance, and the triumph of the human spirit.
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