Out Run

The world's only LGBT political party counts on member support in their historic quest to elect a trans woman to the Philippine Congress.

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S. Leo Chiang

S. Leo Chiang

S. Leo CHIANG (Producer/Director) is a documentarian based in Taipei & San Francisco. His Emmy-nominated film, A Village Called Versailles, picked up eight film festival awards and aired on PBS’ Independent Lens series. Out Run, his recently completed film, received support from ITVS, Sundance, and Tribeca. His other films include Mr. Cao Goes To Washington Show more (Inspiration Award, Full Frame 2012) and To You Sweetheart, Aloha (PBS broadcast 2006). Leo received his MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He is currently the co-chair of New Day Films, a 45-year-old co-op of social-issue documentarians. He is also a consulting producer for CNEX, the Chinese documentary foundation. Show less

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Johnny Symons

Johnny Symons is an Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker specializing in LGBTQ+ documentaries. His work has premiered at Sundance, Full Frame, and SFFILM, screened at 250+ international festivals, won 25+ awards, and broadcast in 20+ countries. He is an associate professor at San Francisco State's School of Cinema, where he coordinates the MFA Program.

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The Film

Out Run follows a trio of ambitious transgender women as they lead the Ladlad Party, the only LGBT political party in the world, on a historic quest to win Congressional seats in the Philippines. Campaigning in an intriguing culture where Catholicism dominates, yet transgenders are unusually visible, charismatic candidate Bemz and her flamboyant campaign team leaders Santy and Bhuta find themselves facing an enduring challenge to push voters beyond firmly-held stereotypes that transgenders are acceptable only as hairstylists, entertainers, and sex workers, but do not belong in respectable positions, let alone the halls of Congress.

As the Ladlad crew traverses the Philippine archipelago, Bemz and Santy take the stage at huge outdoor “Miss Gay” pageants to advocate for the passage of anti-discrimination policies, and engage working-class gay and transgender beauty parlor owners to convert their salons into Ladlad’s informal local headquarters. In the process, they inspire a stream of local trans beauty queens and parloristas, including the gregarious Bhuta who, despite a serious lack of resources, takes to the streets of her ramshackle Manila neighborhood with other LGBTs to drum up support for the Party. Each of these women hopes their grassroots efforts will lead to broad national voter turnout that can propel Ladlad to victory. But the campaign struggles to overcome a lack of funding, fractured leadership, and transphobia from both outside and within the LGBT community.

Documenting Ladlad’s historic journey up through the climactic election day, Out Run sheds light on the burgeoning global movement for LGBT rights in the Global South.