Shadow Cinema

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Coming to PBS Masterpiece Classic: One of the least known movements in film making is Shadow Cinema. Directors and writers sympathetic to transgender and lesbian characters even in the 1940s through the decades were forced within limited budgets and resources into filming shadow productions. Using the same sets and locations, and adapted scripts, these brave artists produced ‘shadow’ versions of popular motion pictures. The results were well-received, such as they could be seen in very limited and carefully selected venues across the country.

Here are just a few selected screen-captures along with the quotes that were lifted directly from their more popular big budget counterparts



Joni, a transwoman resort dance instructor in the Catskills romances a naïve 17-year old girl on vacation with her family… from 1987

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A gender-bender approach from Franco Zefferelli’s 3rd unit director, this film features a boy in the leading lady’s role and vice versa… from 1968

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A single mom only adores women but inexplicable falls in love with seemingly self-centered sports agent. She cannot explain the attraction until she learns he was saving up money for GRS and a ring… from 1996

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An Elf queen longs for the ranger who is destined to rule the land, but magic and destiny bring them together in an entirely new way… from 2001

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A Sicilian-American widow in Brooklyn Heights is trapped in a dreary engagement until she falls hard for her fiancé’s post-operative irregular sister… from 1987

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An American woman operates a gambling establishment in Morocco during WWII. An old flame arrives with her Resistence Fighter husband. Romance is rekindled only to be set aside for the greater good… from 1942

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The play’s the thing, and with boys as girls and girls pretending to be boys as girls, everyone is confused, bewildered, and entirely satisfied… from 1998

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A non-binary transwoman struggling with mental health issues meets a femme lesbian with trust issues and her own emotional struggles. Their relationship ebbs until both realize they were right for each other… from 2012

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A lovely woman feels trapped by convention and expectations; feeling doomed to marry a man. Romance seems all too one-sided until she learns that her husband-to-be has a unique side to him…from 1995

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Two women, adversaries in the bookselling business, begin on-line correspondence; neither realizing they were writing to their nemesis. Both lose their defenses and find true love… from 1998

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and finally...

A pair of transwomen fall in and out of love but realize finally that they were meant for each other… from 1989

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This story is 413 words long.