Twenty years ago, filmmaker Kimberly Peirce came to the 1997 Sundance Directors Lab to workshop her film Boys Don’t Cry. The film is based on the real-life story of Brandon Teena—a trans man from the small town of Falls City, Idaho, portrayed by Hilary Swank—who adopts his male persona among an unaware new group of friends. As he tries to find love and acceptance in his newfound social circle, he begins a relationship with Lana Tisdel (played by Chloë Sevigny), who doesn’t know about his gender history. The intense story eventually culminates with the cruel and violent crimes committed against Brandon by two of his acquaintances.
Director and writer Kimberly Peirce is pictured above at the Directors Lab at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Provo, Utah, working with actress Summer Phoenix (sister of River and Joaquin) as she workshops the script. Boys Don’t Cry was released two years after her time at the Directors Lab. In 2000, Swank took home both an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award for her performance as Brandon, and Sevigny received nominations for both an Oscar and Golden Globe as well.
© 1997 Fred Hayes for Sundance Institute. Film stills courtesy of Boys Don’t Cry.