BOYS DON'T CRY
About The Production
In late 1993, down a quiet, dusty road in southeast Nebraska, in a ramshackle farmhouse, two ex-cons committed a multiple murder. What seemed at the time like an inexplicably brutal heartland killing soon turned into something far more revealing as the true story of the killers and one of the victims emerged. For among the dead was Brandon Teena, a young man who had been in town only for a short while but had already become one of the town's most enchanting characters: a playful rebel, a loyal friend and an irresistible romancer of the ladies. But who was he really? And why had he incited such a violent reaction?
As headlines would soon reveal, Brandon Teena was not the boy he and everybody else wanted him to be. In fact, despite the fact that he had apparently been a dashing boyfriend to many women, people were shocked to learn after his death that Brandon Teena was, in fact, a woman from Lincoln, Nebraska named Teena Brandon. While Teena Brandon was a young adult trapped in a world that did not accept her, Brandon Teena was a fun-loving heartbreaker with beautiful girlfriends who publicly adored him. What stumped the police officers, parents and broken-hearted young women of the small town of Falls City was how one person could take on two utterly opposite identities — and be believed, at least until it all unraveled.
This is the mystery that first drew filmmaker Kimberly Peirce. "Here was a character who was already becoming an icon within months after being killed, Brandon Teena represented so many strands of our culture -- he was a female to male, he was a petty thief, he was the victim of a hate crime -- he was being written about by true crime writers, journalists and feminists. There was no disputing that his story was dramatic and tragic, but the real challenge in telling it was finding the human being underneath it all, discovering what it was like to be inside Brandon's skin the very first night he passed as boy. When you think about who he was and begin to see how extraordinary what he did was, just how powerful his spirit, imagination and creativity had to have been. The more the story unfolded, the more I found that the simple
fact that this person actually existed was completely compelling. Figuring out what was going on inside of him and making sense of how he had created himself into his fantasy of a guy, how he managed to find a place in so many people's lives and why he provoked such intense reprisal was worth as many years as it took to figure it out."
Peirce set off on a five-year odyssey to understand Brandon Teena and turn his story into a dramatic fictional film. The result, "Boys
Don't Cry," is a story where the mystery is human identity itself.
"Brandon unwittingly provided not only a sense of adventure and possibility in a place where there was very little, he instilled a sense that you could go ahead and live out your dreams," says Peirce. "Yet, when his assumed identity unraveled, this kid who had at first appeared simply harmless and eager to please, became entirely threatening. The story had classic mythic elements. The trick was uncovering the underlying emotional truth and figuring out how to tell it."
Like the true-life rural killings that were chillingly depicted in "In Cold Blood," "Badlands" and "The Executioner's Song," Peirce saw the murders as a contemporary evocation of dreams and desires, lost innocence and crimes of young drifters in the heartland. Although no one could know exactly what happened in Brandon Teena's short life, using a mixture of trial transcripts, media coverage, interviews with local kids, real-life participants and her own imagination to plumb the minds and souls of the real-life characters, Peirce decided to piece together her own version of the puzzling tale.
The hard facts of the case were gruesome. Several days before Brandon's death, on Christmas Eve, t
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