Growing Up Coy, a documentary examining the fight for transgender rights in the U.S., is jumping from the festival circuit straight to global digital distribution.
The 82-minute film from Still Point Pictures - directed by Eric Juhola, and produced by Jeremy Stulberg, Diana Holtzberg and Randy Stulberg – is slated to stream on Netflix Jan. 6 in all global territories and 190-plus countries.
The Netflix distribution deal was secured after early distribution plans with Al Jazeera America collapsed when the channel was shuttered in early 2016, forcing the film’s producers to look elsewhere.
After talking to a number of global broadcasters, executive producer and East Village Entertainment president Holtzberg told realscreen that “Netflix was the place we ultimately decided to choose [because] of its incredible global reach.”
“I approached Netflix and they were very excited by it,” she added.
Director Juhola echoed Holtzberg’s comments, telling realscreen: “We were focused on…using this film to make an impact, and we felt like the way to do that was to distribute in way that would [allow] the most people possible to watch it. Across the country, across the world.”
The documentary follows six-year-old Colorado-native Coy Mathis (pictured), whose family made international headlines in 2013 over a the legal challenge to allow Coy, who was born male but identifies as female, to use the girls’ washroom. The ruling in favor of transgender rights by the Colorado Civil Rights Division was the first of its kind in the United States.
Juhola spent nearly three years with the Mathis family, following their struggle for the rights of their child, and the intense media coverage that came with it. Their win in the Colorado civil right case, and resulting ripple effect on other U.S. states, including the emergence of various so-called “bathroom bills” mandating public bathroom use based on one’s legal gender identity, came as an unexpected development in the production, and led the team to search for a way to get their film out as quickly as possible, making Netflix even more attractive.
“I can’t think of another distributor who could get in front of that many eyes, all at once” Juhola said of Netflix’s reach across 86-million subscribers world-wide. “Now, in particular, is a time when we can really make a difference with the film and educate people who had never considered this issue before.”
The film, which held its world premiere at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York, most recently won Best Documentary awards at Raindance Film Festival in London and BendFilm in Oregon, as well as a special Festival Theme award at Ojai Film Festival in California.
In addition, the doc has screened across the festival circuit at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco, MixBrasil in Sao Paulo, Denver Film Festival, Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita, among others.
Growing Up Coy was made possible with the support by the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, Arcus Foundation, and the Frameline Foundation.