Screened as part of NZIFF 2001

Southern Comfort 2000

Directed by Kate Davis

USA In English
90 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay, Photography, Editor

Production Co

Q-Ball Productions


Kate Davis
Elizabeth Adams


Elizabeth Adams


Joel Harrison. With songs by the DCvers


Robert Eads
Lola Cola


Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2001


The hero of Kate Davis’ Southern Comfort is Robert Eads, a Georgia farmer with a craggy face, a scruffy beard, and an old-school gallant manner; he’s also dying of ovarian cancer. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, this documentary is a portrait of Eads in the last year of his life, when two things kept him going: his desire to attend the annual convention of Southern Comfort, an organization of some 500 transsexuals from around the South, and his love affair with Lola Cola. ‘Lola,’ he says, ‘is all the guys’ wet dream, the queen of SoCo. I’m Grandpa to all the guys, and I’m dating Lola.’ And why not? Eads’ wit, generosity, insight, and courage are irresistible…

When Eads was a little girl, his father thought he was special enough to become the wife of a future president of the United States. Believing that God meant him to have children, Eads found a suitable man, married him, and had two sons. Later he lived in a lesbian relationship for ten years. But Eads never felt like a lesbian. Rather, he thought of himself as a heterosexual man trapped in a woman’s body. Eads opted to have a sex change – not the ‘bottom surgery,’ but breast removal and hormone treatment. His doctor decided that since Eads had been through menopause, a hysterectomy wasn’t necessary. Eads believes this was what led to his ovarian cancer. If there’s a villain in Southern Comfort, it’s the medical profession: not only the transsexual specialists (most of Eads’ SoCo brothers have their own horror stories), but the 20 doctors who refused to treat his cancer, claiming that his presence in their offices would upset their women patients…

Davis shot Southern Comfort with a small digital video camera, and, although it doesn’t deliver the prettiest pictures or the smoothest pans, its unobtrusiveness proved invaluable. No mere fly on the wall, the director, who is never seen or heard, is treated by everyone on the screen like a dear friend… As Eads grows weaker and his love affair with Lola becomes more intense, Davis focuses on their daily life and the gestures that reveal the depth of their intimacy… Discreet but not prudish, frank but not exploitative, Southern Comfort is an affecting tribute to a remarkable life. — Amy Taubin, Village Voice, 21/2/01