Pulitzer Center Columbia University fellows Yuhong Pang and Robert Tokanel won multiple awards for their film, She's Not a Boy—"Best Short" at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and "Best International Film Award-Trophy" from the Idlewild International Film Festival.
The film takes an intimate look at the life of an asylum-seeking intersex woman, Tatenda Ngwaru, who fled Zimbabwe in hopes of finding more acceptance abroad. Viewers become immersed in Ngwaru's journey as she builds a new life for herself in New York City after leaving behind her loved ones in Zimbabwe due to violence and oppression in her home country.
The film highlighting the discrimination intersex people face all over the globe was screened at the Chain NYC Film Festival and NewFilmmakersNY. The film is set to screen at the Oslo/Fusion International Film Festival during the week of September 20 to September 27, 2019 and at the International Queer and Migrant Film Festival during the weeks of December 4 to December 12, 2019.
"When we made this film, we really had no idea that it would ever reach so many people, and as a first-time filmmaker, it's been a really exciting process just to take part in festivals. Being recognized with awards in some of these recent festivals is way beyond what I could have imagined. It's heartening to see people connecting with Tatenda's story. As a refugee and an intersex woman of color trying to make a life in the United States, the particulars of her life are likely very different from the majority of the people who are seeing the film, but her search for love and belonging is universal," says Tokanel.
Tokanel is a journalist and documentary filmmaker whose work has been published on The New York Times Learning Network, Boston.com, and Mic. He has previously reported from Jordan, Turkey, and Zimbabwe, and he is currently producing an augmented reality experience in Charleston, SC, which seeks to contextualize and reimagine Confederate monuments.
Pang is a journalist and documentary filmmaker from China who received her Master's degree from the Columbia School of Journalism documentary program in 2018. Her work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, NationSwell, The Diplomat, and broadcast on Beijing Television.
Pang and Tokanel received their Pulitzer Center fellowships as part of the Campus Consortium partnership with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.