‘Stealth’ wins Best Short in audience vote at 2016 GayCharlotte Film Festival

Short drama stars teenage transgender actress Kristina Hernandez

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A 2015 short film dramatizing the life of a middle school transgender student and starring a teenage transgender actress in the lead role was chosen by audience members at Charlotte Pride’s annual GayCharlotte Film Festival, April 21-24, 2016, as the winner of its Best Short — Viewers’ Choice Award.

Charlotte Pride, a local non-profit organization which creates programs and activities to enrich, empower, strengthen and make visible the unique lives and experiences of LGBTQ people in Charlotte and the Carolinas, announced “Stealth” as the winner of its LGBTQ Shorts Competition on May 9, 2016.

“Stealth,” a 2015 AFI Thesis Film from producer/writer Melissa Hoppe and director Bennett Lasseter, follows transgender character Sammy on her first days of middle school in a new town. She wants to fit in and make friends, but Sammy has a secret. She was born a boy but knows without a doubt that she was meant to be a girl.

Kristina Hernandez stars as the lead character, Sammy.

Kristina Hernandez stars as the lead character, Sammy.

The short film profiles a brave eleven-year-old who dares to live life as her whole self, and it promotes acceptance of children facing the same obstacle as — how to fit in when you’re different. In the film, Sammy makes two new best friends, but they’re getting closer and closer to finding out her secret. Should she tell them? What will happen if she does?

Teenage transgender actress Kristina Hernandez was cast to play Sammy. “Stealth” is Hernandez’ film debut. She has been taking acting lessons since she was six years old and has starred in local stage productions. In her local community, she has been outspoken in efforts to make her school and others safer and more inclusive for transgender students.

“I am thrilled to hear that Stealth won the Viewers Choice Award at the GayCharlotte Film Festival!” Hernandez says. “It is scary to be a young trans person in the world today. When we made this film I didn’t know that there would be so much focus on trans rights across the nation. At a time when transpersons’ rights are being attacked, it is exciting to see so many people coming together to support the trans community and stand up for what’s right. I am so proud to have been a part of this film, and I am proud be a voice in the fight for equality for all.”

The audience favorite comes as the LGBTQ community in Charlotte, in North Carolina and across the country continue to debate the rights and equality of transgender people, especially in the aftermath of North Carolina’s HB2, statewide legislation repealing LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections in Charlotte and targeting transgender people and their use of public restrooms which correspond with their gender identity.

Eight films were screened during the GayCharlotte Film Festival’s LGBTQ Shorts Competition, with over 100 audience members casting their ballot for their favorite film.

“Stealth” has screened at over 50 festivals, was a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for Science Grant, has won two student Emmys, a student Academy Award and over 20 festival awards.

Learn more about the GayCharlotte Film Festival at charlottelgbtfilm.com and other Charlotte Pride programs and activities at charlottepride.org.

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ABOUT CHARLOTTE PRIDE: Charlotte Pride is the leader in LGBTQ visibility in Charlotte and the Carolinas. We present and collaborate on programs, projects, and activities, including the annual Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade, Trans Pride, Latin Pride, and the GayCharlotte Film Festival, among others. Since its founding in 2000, Charlotte Pride has expanded its year-round programming and partnerships to better connect community members with its mission, vision, and values. It is now the third-largest LGBTQ Pride organization in the American Southeast.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 9, 2016
Media Contact: Matt Comer, media@charlottepride.org, 704-625-6449

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The Start Talking. Stop HIV. campaign is proud to be sponsoring this year’s GayCharlotte Film Festival! Start Talking is excited to support the festival’s eighth year of celebrating the artistic, cultural, and historical contributions of LGBTQ through the power of film. #‎StartTalkingHIV

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