The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

Synopsis: This documentary uses never-before-seen footage and rediscovered interviews in a search for the truth behind the mysterious 1992 death of black transgender activist and Stonewall veteran Marsha P. Johnson.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): David France
Production: Netflix
  4 wins & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
105 min


[indistinct chatter]

[woman 1] Do you know what this is?

[woman 2] It's for Marsha. Marsha Johnson.

-[woman 1] Who's that?

-[woman 2] Well, she was, um...

a transvestite from the Village

who recently died.

She was a big activist.

Um, we're not sure how she died yet.

Murder, maybe?

Marsha Johnson,

a veteran of the Stonewall riots,

and a prominent figure

among transvestites,

was found dead in the river

near Christopher Street, Monday morning.

Marsha, whose real name

was Malcolm Michaels Jr.,

was last seen alive on Thursday.

The police lists suicide

as the cause of death,

but community leaders cite

a lack of evidence,

and charge that police

have yet to begin an investigation

into the death of this beloved founder

of the gay movement.

A demonstration is planned

for next week on Christopher Street.

Marsha was 46 years old and is survived

by four brothers and two sisters.

She will be greatly missed.

[thunder rumbling]

[siren wailing]

[Sue Yacka] Do we have everyone?

Let's start with the most recent incident,

which happened over the weekend.

A 35-year-old transgender woman

was attacked

outside of her home

in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Um, last we heard was that the survivor

is not yet conscious

or able to communicate,

and they've not been in a position

where we could offer support.

She had her head smashed

against the curb of a sidewalk

by, uh, someone who has fled

and has not yet been apprehended.

[man] Keep us posted.

[Catherine Santos] And let us know

what you need.

[Sue] Remember, the Nettles case is back

in court this Friday.

[man] Yeah, we'll be there.

[Victoria] I've been working for the LGBTQ

Anti-Violence project for many years,

and I'm about to retire.

But there's a massive number

of trans women who have been murdered,

and their cases have just gone cold.

And they're yelling out

from their graves...

for justice.

Most of them were unknown,

but even famous people, cases go cold,

just like Marsha.

Marsha was famous all around the world.

Her case has been cold for 25 years.

If we can't bring justice for Marsha,

how can we bring justice

for all these other unsolved cases?

I wanna try to give Marsha justice

before I leave.

[camerawoman] This is the memorial

that the street people laid down,

where they laid Marsha's body

when they pulled Marsha out of the water.

Right over the edge here.

[man] You're looking for '92, right?

[Victoria] It was July of '92.

[man] Everyone knew Marsha.

Marsha was so full of life.

It's hard for me to believe

that she would commit suicide.

[Victoria] Yeah, this is her case.

-I was there when they pulled her out.

-[camerawoman] Yeah?

Where did you see her floating?

[man] Right over there.

She was about this...

Right there, let's say.

And the head was up

and the feet were down.

She wasn't floating flat,

she was floating down.

And she had a hole in her head.

[camerawoman] How do you know

she had a hole in her head?

-I could see it.


-[cameraman] You can't judge that...

-It could be the fish--

I'm just saying it was a hole.

I'm not saying what happened.

All I'm telling you is what I saw.

She didn't look anything like we knew her.

[indistinct chatter]

[Taylor Mead] Isn't this calming

and nice to come here?

They set aside this whole pier for us

so we could come and relax here.

[man on street] Marsha!

[Taylor] Marsha Johnson,

Queen of the Village. One of the great...

This is one of the most courageous people

in the world.

I've always loved...

I always wanted to put on drag

and I never had the courage.

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David France

David Harry France, (born 30 June 1948) is an author, football historian and philanthropist. Throughout the past two decades, he has been the driving force behind numerous initiatives related to Everton Football Club including Gwladys Street's Hall of Fame, the Everton Former Players' Foundation, the EFC Heritage Society, the Founding Fathers of Merseyside Football and the David France Collection (now known as the Everton Collection). In January 2011, Liverpool's Freedom of the City panel rewarded David France with the prestigious title of Citizen of Honour.France was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to football in the United Kingdom and Europe. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 17 May 2021. <>.

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