Winner of Audience awards in both Sundance and Berlin, this vibrant, taboo-busting, music-filled documentary invites us into the lives of four black trans sex workers in New York and Atlanta.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
“Kokomo City takes up a seemingly simple mantle—to present the stories of four Black transgender sex workers in New York and Georgia. Shot in striking black and white, the boldness of the facts of these women's lives and the earthquaking frankness they share complicate this enterprise, colliding the every day with cutting social commentary and the excavation of long-dormant truths. Sharing reflections on knotty desire, far-reaching taboo, identification in labor, and gender’s many meanings, these women offer an unapologetic and cutting analysis of Black culture and society at large from a vantage point that is vibrating with energy, sex, challenge, and hard-earned wisdom.
This vital portrait is the daring directorial debut of D. Smith. A veteran of the music industry and a Grammy-nominated producer, singer, and songwriter, Smith brings her sonic skills into stunning harmony with a visual style whose grit and brassiness match the energy and spirit she elicits from her participants. Unfiltered, unabashed, and unapologetic, Smith and her subjects smash the trendy standard for authenticity, offering a refreshing rawness and vulnerability unconcerned with purity and politeness.” — Sundance Film Festival
This Sundance and Berlin audience award-winning film has been made tragic by the murder of star Koko Da Doll who was shot and killed in April 2023. In a statement to Variety, director D. Smith said: “I created Kokomo City because I wanted to show the fun, humanised, natural side of black trans women. I wanted to create images that didn’t show the trauma or the statistics of murder of transgender lives. I wanted to create something fresh and inspiring. I did that. We did that! But here we are again. It’s extremely difficult to process Koko’s passing, but as a team we are more encouraged now than ever to inspire the world with her story. To show how beautiful and full of life she was. She will inspire generations to come and will never be forgotten.”