The Stroll (2023)

The Stroll (2023)

The often neglected but deeply necessary story of trans sex workers, finally told in their own voice

The Very Best



United States of America
Documentary, Drama
86 min

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Transwomen finally telling their story on their own terms is absolute queen behavior right there. No notes.

What it's about

Director Kristen Lovell delves into her and her friends’ experiences to tell the story of Black trans sex workers in the red light district known as The Stroll.

The take

At one point in the documentary, director Kristen Lovell says, “I wanted to archive the movement that was building between transwomen and sex workers,” and that’s exactly what she achieves with The Stroll, a well-researched, creatively edited, and deeply moving account of the trans-sex-work experience that defined New York for a good chunk of the 20th century. It’s both historical and personal, touching and rousing, as it recounts a history that’s often been forgotten even among the LGBTQ+ community. To do this, Lovell digs up archival footage, brings to life long-buried data, and strikes up heartfelt conversations with survivors of The Stroll, that street in New York where Lovell and her fellow homeless escorts used to pick customers up. Thanks to Lovell’s hard work in telling this extraordinary story of struggle and success, there isn’t a moment in this film where you’re not shocked, frustrated, or exhilarated along with them.

What stands out

Honestly, everything about this powerful documentary is a standout. From the cold open where Lovell reveals how she bravely stepped up to direct the story of her community, to the ending where’s joined by her sisters, to the moments in between that either recount a forgotten piece of queer history or relay a much-deserved callout to authority figures (including RuPaul, believe it or not, for making light of the sex work experience). And many of these sequences are animated beautifully in stop-motion black-and-white, so really, a film as finely and thoughtfully made as this is impossible to forget.

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