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(An official selection for the Documentary Competition at Geena Davis’s Bentonville Film Festival Aug.10-16 and official selection at Austin’s AGLIFF 2020 (All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival) Aug. 6-16, the documentary was the proud winner of Audience Choice at the Paley Center for Media DocPitch Competition. Learn where it plays next at Like what you see here on Hammer to Nail? Why not give just $1.00 per month via Patreon to help keep us going?)

Documentaries on comedians often look at the balance of personal versus public. For Julia Scotti, the art on stage is about taking old comedy and making it new again, but this time as a woman. Born as Rick Scotti, a comedian in the 80s focused on “sad sack” jokes and some homophobic and transphobic fueled jokes, Rick leaves comedy and during and after his third marriage transitions to her true self: Julia.

Through the documentary we also observe the relationship with her son and daughter, the son having gone into the family business of being funny. Julia and the children regret the way they were kept apart but appreciate the new found relationship with Julia as adults. The core of the film is Julia following her own stage persona with her son while watching tapes and recalling the moments that led to questioning her gender.

Directed by first-time female doc filmmaker (at 72) Susan Sandler (writer of Golden Globe nominated Crossing Delancey), the film is executive-produced by Paul Szynol, a regular on the festival circuit. During the film a fellow comedian notes that Rick was funny but Julia is someone on stage that warrants attention. And it is true that as “the crazy old lady of comedy” she transforms not only into her true self but into a more enlightened comedian.

While comedian documentaries often blend in the typical struggle of telling jokes on stage that impacts those around them, for Julia, the stage serves as a safe place to come out and to explore, leading only to more positive relationships. An unexpected journey and comeback story unlike any other, Julia Scotti: Funny That Way is a welcome story in 2020.

– Melanie Addington (@MelAddington)

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Melanie Addington is the Executive Director of Tallgrass Film Association as of 2021. She has worked in the film festival world since 2006, first as a volunteer, and then eventually becoming the Oxford Film Festival Executive Director in August 2015. She used to be a reporter for the Oxford Eagle (a community newspaper) and then Pizza Magazine Quarterly (a global trade magazine). She still loves pizza. And she still writes for Hammer to Nail and Film Festival Today about her other great love: movies. She is from Southern California originally but lived in the South for 20 years. She now resides in Wichita, KS, and has one son.

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