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“Queer Cuts” brings 5 fresh filmmakers to tell New Hope’s stories


A chance meeting occurred at a documentary film screening for 5B, which recalls the experiences of nurses in the HIV/AIDS ward of San Francisco General Hospital at the start of the AIDS epidemic.

At this screening in Hopewell, N.J., the producer and filmmaker behind 5B — Brendan Gaul — met fellow producer and filmmaker Sarah Scully and Daniel Brooks, the founder of New Hope Celebrates, an organization with a mission to bring people together to share in a celebration of the history, diversity and inclusiveness of the LGBTQ+ community.

Scully and Brooks wanted to create a documentary film examining the gay history of New Hope. Gaul and his producing partner Brett Henenberg, both Bucks County natives, were ready to continue their momentum within the documentary genre and were compelled to capture the history of a special small town that had been part of their upbringing.

Like most documentaries, the process began within the archives. Gaul explained that as they searched the New Hope Celebrates archives, “We couldn’t find ‘the’ story. (Rather) there were so many different stories, and they were so rich. There wasn’t just one story to be told.”

It was when Gaul consulted his friend, director Ben Proudfoot, who holds an Oscar for Best Documentary Short for his film “The Queen of Basketball,” with his dilemma that a light bulb went off.

“Ben suggested that if it’s not one story, it’s probably a series of shorts instead of a feature film,” said Gaul.

Gaul is a producer and filmmaker for TRAVERSE32, a part of IPG Mediabrands. The company is always seeking new talent to pair with its clients.

As they defined their approach, a series of short films, they identified five storytellers to direct five short films, each with a unique tactic, voice, perspective and place. These emerging filmmakers would receive the funding from IPG Mediabrands to produce their films and mentorship opportunities with more experienced producers and directors.

“There is diversity in people’s own stories,” said Gaul. “My producing partner and I have had a level of success with our own projects, and we have a responsibility to pay it forward. We are happy to create opportunities for up-and-coming filmmakers.”

One of the selected filmmakers is Philadelphia-based Kristal Sotomayor, whose film, “Don’t Cry for Me All You Drag Queens,” is one of the featured shorts. It documents the life of Mother Cavallucci, a legendary New Hope drag queen known for her ability to connect with the local community.

“She would have her hair and nails done, wear full makeup, and attend church as an accepted member of the community,” said Sotomayor. “I resonated deeply with her story.”

Sotomayor continued, “I hope this will be a film for the queer community to learn about an important ancestor.”

The film is constructed as a meditative documentary, weaving photographs and videos of Mother Cavallucci with present-day observational footage of a community drag show featuring the current reigning Miss New Hope, Phoebe Mantrappe, and Ms. Pumpkin, another legendary New Hope queen.

“It has been amazing to get to know people and to attend community events while making this film,” said Sotomayor. “For me, my film-making is based in collaborations with community organizations and local community leaders. They have fed my creative process.”

See all five shorts in the production titled, “Queer Cuts,” playing at the Bucks County Playhouse on Nov. 4.

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