Frameline47: Casa Susanna

  • A group of trans women in festive gowns talk with one of them smoking a cigarette

During the 1950s, a group of closeted trans women and crossdressers found unexpected refuge in Casa Susanna, a remote house in the New York Catskills where they were able to freely express their authentic selves. During their short stay, these guests would do performances and photoshoots, lounge in clothes that they would otherwise only fantasize about wearing, and form an unlikely (and for some, life-saving) community of kindred.

Renowned French auteur Sébastien Lifshitz (Bambi: A French Woman, Frameline46; Going South, Frameline34) reunites former guests of the house and, alongside an impressively abundant and lively collection of home footage and photographs, captures the vibrancy, resilience, and joy of a community living at a time where there was little.

Casa Susanna shows the relentlessly affirming journey that these women (and the world as a whole) have gone through since their days at the Catskills. Through the film they are able to reminisce about the magic that took place in the isolation of that house, away from any societal expectations or judgment.

Presented as part of Frameline47 International Film Festival.

1h 37m
Sébastien Lifshitz
United States & France
First Showing
June 18, 2023