‘ALASKA IS A DRAG’ Shaz Bennett’s Directorial Debut
ARRAY Releasing announces the acquisition of ALASKA IS A DRAG, the award-winning feature film directed and written by Shaz Bennett.
Honored with best feature film and jury awards at multiple festivals nationwide, including Smithsonian, Leeds and Urbanworld, ALASKA IS A DRAG marks Bennett’s feature film directorial debut. ARRAY Releasing will premiere ALASKA IS A DRAG on Netflix on December 31, 2020. The announcement was made by ARRAY President Tilane Jones.
From Bennett’s script inspired by her experiences, ALASKA IS A DRAG explores themes around the fluidity of gender identity, conforming to norms and being accepted for who you are. The fish out-of-water dramedy centers on Leo (Martin L Washington Jr.), a glamobsessed young man with dreams of being a drag superstar, while working in a fish cannery in Alaska and defending himself against homophobic attacks. After taking abuse from the town bully one too many times, Leo and his twin sister Tristen (Maya Washington) put his unlikely punching skills to the test with the help of his boss and former amateur boxer (Jason Scott Lee). Margaret Cho (Drop Dead Diva), Matt Dallas (Baby Daddy, Kyle XY), Christopher O’Shea (Madam Secretary), Kevin Daniels (Sirens, AJ and the Queen) and Nia Peeples (Pretty Little Liars) co-star. ALASKA IS A DRAG is produced by Melanie Miller, Diane Becker, Bennett and Jean-Pierre Caner.
“We’re excited to present Shaz Bennett’s ALASKA IS A DRAG as we close out 2020 on a high note,” said Jones. “Bennett’s expressive storytelling centers the desire to belong and to be accepted completely for who we are. We’re thrilled this expands Shaz’s relationship with ARRAY.”
Bennett made her episodic television directing debut on DuVernay’s Queen Sugar and is an executive producer on ARRAY’s recently announced NBC Native family drama series Sovereign. Her television directing credits also include Billions, Bosch and Animal Kingdom. Her first TV writing job was on The Glades. She later joined the writing team for UnREAL and most recently was a writer for Bosch.
The acquisition was negotiated by Gordon Bobb of Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein and Lezcano on behalf of ARRAY and by Matthew Wallerstein of Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof and Fishman on behalf of ALASKA IS A DRAG.
ALASKA IS A DRAG is the eighth film of 2020 for ARRAY Releasing. Other titles distributed this year include Deepa Mehta’s FUNNY BOY, Takeshi Fukunaga’s AINU MOSIR, Isabel Sandoval’s LINGUA FRANCA, RESIDUE from Merawi Gerima, Stephanie Turner’s JUSTINE, Simon Frederick’s THEY’VE GOTTA HAVE US and Numa Perrier’s JEZEBEL. Previous releases include Gotham and Spirit Award nominee and triple Tribeca Film Festival winner BURNING CANE from Phillip Youmans; award-winning Canadian indigenous feature THE BODY REMEMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN written and directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn; the critically acclaimed directorial debut of Samuel Bazawule’s THE BURIAL OF KOJO; and Official Sundance Film Festival Documentary Selection MERATA by Hepi Mita.
Founded in 2011 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is a multi-platform arts and social impact collective dedicated to narrative change. The organization catalyzes its work through a quartet of mission-driven entities: the film distribution arm ARRAY Releasing, the content company ARRAY Filmworks, the programming and production hub ARRAY Creative Campus and the non-profit group ARRAY Alliance. www.arraynow.com