When critics write about authentic storytelling, they talk about films like ‘Kokomo City’. Shot, edited, produced and directed by visionary new voice D. Smith, this dexterous and spirited documentary is a rare unvarnished portrait of four vivacious and captivating Black trans women. Shot in black and white from a friendly and intimate perspective, the women candidly share their thoughts on sex work, community and dating as a trans woman.
The refreshing film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it earned a few awards and rave reviews, including an IndieWire Critics’ Pick. Magnolia Pictures will release the film in select theaters on July 28, where it is sure to surprise and delight audiences thirsty for original material. IndieWire is proud to present the exclusive trailer.
According to distributor Magnolia, “Kokomo City” is the directorial debut of two-time Grammy nominated producer, singer and songwriter D. Smith. Smith also filmed and edited this hugely entertaining and refreshingly unfiltered documentary handing the mic to four black transgender prostitutes in Atlanta and New York City – Daniella Carter, Koko Da Doll, Liyah Mitchell and Dominique Silver – holding nothing back as their bodies collapse walls of their profession. Produced by Lena Waithe, the film won the Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT Innovator Award and NEXT Audience Award, as well as the Berlinale Audience Award in the Panorama Documentary section.
A successful musician and songwriter, director D. Smith confidently pivots to cinema in an impressive act of vulnerability. As a trans woman, she is able to approach her subjects from an equal footing of shared experience, using her camera as a means for them to speak their truth. Throughout the film, the women engage in the kind of vulnerable, honest conversations that usually only happen behind closed doors. Pulling back the curtain on her community, Smith invites the viewer to fully immerse and empathize with the experience of being a Black trans woman in America.
While the women of “Kokomo City” are often hilarious and refreshing, their stories are also filled with heartbreak, racism, transphobia, and violence. The film suffered a tragic loss earlier this year when one of the film’s subjects, Rasheeda Williams, also known as Koko Da Doll, was murdered in Atlanta.
“I created ‘Kokomo City’ because I wanted to show the fun, humanized and natural side of Black trans women,” Smith said in a statement at the time. “I wanted to create images that didn’t show the trauma or statistics of murdering transgender lives. I wanted to create something fresh and inspiring. I did it. We did! But here we are again.”
Magnolia Pictures will release “Kokomo City” in theaters on July 28, 2023.