Kiki Road to Cannes


The cast & crew of the upcoming film Port Authority, directed by Danielle Lessovitz, are overjoyed and humbled to announced that the film will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard in May. This is a ground-breaking, historical film that features the first trans woman of color as a lead in a Cannes Premiere (Leyna Bloom), and the first trans woman of color as a producer on a Cannes film (Jari Jones). Sadly, however, the very limited indie budget doesn't allow the resources to travel key supporting members of the cast to share in the celebration - so we are hoping to raise the funds to cover travel, accommodations and some on the ground spending (meals in Cannes are expensive!) for 4 important members of the supporting cast.

Port Authority is largely comprised of non-actors culled from the underground ballroom scene, a thriving community of young queer dancers of color who compete for prizes in home-grown balls. The inventive dancing styles and costumes these kiki members create have been copied many times over by famous artists and singers, but deserved attribution is rarely ascribed for their efforts. Now we have a chance to honor their contributions on an international stage at Cannes. 

Many of our actors come from underprivileged backgrounds and have been homeless at various points in their lives, often as a result of being ostracized by their families for being queer. The kiki scene is where they find family and acceptance. These young people have breathed such life into the film, and we want to make sure they are able to come to France to celebrate their achievement at the Cannes Festival.  These funds will be used by the production to cover flights and accommodations, as well as meals for these 4, talented and wonderful members of our cast. Amanda Messenger, the film's line producer, will be withdrawing the funds to purchase these flights and accommodations, and will be on the ground in Cannes to help get our cast settled!  

Film Synopsis:

On the steps outside New York City’s dizzying central bus station, Port Authority, a girl named Wye vogues with her siblings. Paul, a young drifter, watches her, transfixed by her beauty. After he seeks her out, an intense love soon blossoms. Wye introduces him to the ballroom community, an underground LGBTQ subculture, and to her house, a self-selected chosen family. But when Paul realizes Wye is trans, he is forced to confront his feelings for her and the social forces that seek to rupture their bond.

BIOS of our wonderful key supporting cast from the ballroom community:

Christopher Quarles:

Christopher Quarles, aka Afrika Juicy Milan, is a 28-year-old key figure and mentor in the kiki and ballroom scene. Originally from Greenwood, South Carolina, Afrika left home at 18 to avoid coming out to his mother, a pastor. As a sophomore in college, Afrika was diagnosed with HIV and his life changed forever. He left for NYC to find himself, and once there was welcomed into to the ballroom scene. Luna Luis took Afrika under his wing and guided him to success. Afrika found his place as a peer educator in the community. In 2011 he received a prestigious award “The Hector Xtravaganza Excellence Award”, named for his late ballroom grandfather, for his dedication to helping individuals receive services like housing, health benefits, and supplemental benefits. Afrika has devoted himself to preventing the spread of HIV by working for GMHC and Housing Works. His road hasn’t been easy, but with his optimistic attitude, caring words, and detailed mindset he has been able to achieve more than he ever dreamt of and has inspired many young kids in the black and brown communities who, thanks to Afrika's efforts, now have a home and the promise of a future.

Eddie Plaza:

Eddie Plaza, a 20-year-old dancer and Brooklyn native, spends virtually all his waking hours working. He holds a full time job in retail by day and vogues by night. Even when at home he works; he is the sole caretaker of his mother, who struggles with a chronic illness. 

“I am a proud citizen of the LGBTQ community", Eddie says. "Being a performer was my constant dream growing up, but being gay blocked me from many opportunities...until now.  I have a new start…it’s like everything I dreamed of is finally becoming a reality. Being a part of this film has been a blessing and a Jurassic change in my life. I’m ecstatic to see my talent portrayed through something that hits so close to home. I've really enjoyed being able to truly be myself and being as vibrant and free as I've always wanted to be."

Devon Carpenter:

Devon Carpenter is a dancer from Harlem. He ran away from home at 15 because his religious mother would not accept his orientation. His ballroom family became his new family. Over the years he has made a name for himself in the kiki community with his exquisite dancing, accumulating many prizes and accolades. 

“Growing up LGBTQ has been a hurdle of insecurity and doubt. Wanting acceptance from my loved ones as well as the public, I strove to be the best at anything I put effort into. I've now set my sights on acting which I believe I can excel in. I hope that attending Cannes will make my dream a reality.”

Taliek Jeqon:

Taliek Jeqon is a multitalented artist. He is known in the kiki and ballroom community for his innovative costumes and makeup designs, and he stuns with his amazing electric dance moves. Growing up in Buffalo, he was pushed by his single teenage mom to strive for nothing but the best. As a young adult, he has internalized her drive and persistence and made it his own. 

“I am certain that my peers and I can change the world if we push hard enough. The Port Authority team is bound together by a love of life and the drive to conquer and inspire a positive lifestyle.”

Fundraising team: Port Authority Cast goes to Cannes! (3)

Amanda Messenger
Brooklyn, NY
Damian Bao
Team member
Kate Antognini
Team member

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