Southern Comfort

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Southern Comfort
Directed by Kate Davis
Produced by Kate Davis
Music by Joel Harrison
Cinematography Kate Davis
Editing by Kate Davis
Distributed by HBO Documentary
Release date(s) 2001
Running time 90 mins
Country USA
Language English

Southern Comfort is a 2001 documentary film about the final year in the life of Robert Eads, a female-to-male transsexual. Eads, diagnosed with ovarian cancer, was turned down for treatment by two dozen doctors out of fear that treating such a patient would hurt their reputations. By the time Eads received treatment, the cancer was too advanced to save his life.


Southern Comfort follows the final year of Robert Eads' life. The film begins in the spring. Eads falls in love with Lola, a male-to-female transgender woman. He spends those remaining warm days in the company of his "chosen family:" Max, Cass, and "the rest". That summer, his mother and father drive ten hours to visit Robert, who is still their daughter in their eyes. Later that year, Eads makes his last appearance at the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, a prominent transgender gathering. Already feeling ill, he addresses a crowd of 500 and takes Lola to what is for them a prom that never was. Also appearing in the film are Eads' friends Tom and Debbie King. They were responsible for saving Robert's life as he collapsed in a pool of his own blood while staying with them.

In a bitter irony, Robert Eads died of cervical and ovarian cancer, betrayed, as he puts it, by the last part of himself that was still female. After Eads' death, his ashes were spread across the family farm around a lone Christmas tree which was to symbolize Robert's many changes and blossomings in life.

Robert's encounters with the heterosexual community are recounted as upbeat examples of surprising tolerance. Without any pretense, artifice, or apology. His complete lack of bitterness sets aside the distractions of his cancer, enabling the viewer share his satisfaction in life as a man and his joy in his relationships.


  • Grand Jury Prize (Documentary), Sundance Film Festival 2001;
  • First Prize, Seattle International Film Festival;
  • Special Audience Award, Berlin Film Festival

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