: Documentary
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production


The story of Cuba’s first gay bar and the drag queens that helped change a nation.


Film covertly with out the permission of the Cuban Government, TRANSFORMISTAS tells the story of how a group of drag queens carved out a space for the LBGTQ community in Cuba at a time when homosexuality was denounced as a product of capitalism. In the face of violent state persecution, when HIV positive people were incarcerated in sanatoriums, TRANSFORMISTAS is a story of sacrifice, resilience and commitment to the art form of drag


Shot illegally by the film’s director on his iPhone, TRANSFORMISTAS portrays Cuba truthfully, without glossing over hard truths and gritty details, capturing an intimate world that’s often held together with tape and passion alone. Edited to preserve this exciting, immediate feeling, TRANSFORMISTAS interweaves intimate interviews, performances, & archival footage to chart the moving story of Cuban Queens and their struggle. This film highlights the incredible, everyday struggle of the Transformista community in Cuba – the sacrifices made by these queens and their families in the pursuit of art, their fight for equal rights, and the tremendous physical and mental challenges they have faced. Above all, this story is important because, while there is still much progress to be made within Cuba regarding LGBT rights, it’s inspiring to see how far this community has come in the past twenty-five years, and to bear witness to their celebration of life.


J Santos - editor
Born in Los Angeles, Santos moved to Mexico as a child and grew up in Zapopan, Jalisco until the age of 11. Shortly after high school, he began teaching at the California State Summer School for the Arts, as well as the Echo Park Film Center. More recently Santos has become a very sought after freelance editor: working on projects such as Lake Los Angeles, 20 Years of Madness, Farah Goes Bang, and most recently, the Emmy Nominated Chef’s Table, a Netflix original series.

Chad Hahne - Director

Chad Hahne grew up in northern Minnesota before moving to New York City to pursue a career in the arts. He began working at Interview Magazine and The Public Theater as an intern before landing an assistant and later casting role at a movie studio.  Hahne then moved to Los Angeles to produce projects for film and television, including Academy Award Nominated "How to Survive a Plague" and the Emmy Award winning "RuPaul's Drag Race."  He has produced Television for The Food Network, Comedy Central, MTV, VHI and NBC.  Recently, Chad has directed his artistic passion towards the creation of socially important documentaries and made his directorial debut with "Transformistas", which has been screened with The Human Rights Campaign and has recently been featured in British Vogue.

Chris Panizzon - Producer

Chris Panizzon has produced features and television for CBS Films, MTV Films, Mark Burnett Productions, Bunim-Murray, and independently produced projects that premiered at Toronto International, Berlinale, BFI, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. His Producer credits include THE TO-DO LIST starring Aubrey Plaza and Bill Hader, PEDRO written by Oscar Award winner Dustin Lance Blank, HIGHLAND PARK starring Danny Glover and Parker Posey, SHELTER voted IMDB’s Top 10 Most Memorable LGBT-themed Films of All Time, and POLITICAL ANIMALS, winner of eleven Best Documentary Jury and Audience Awards worldwide. Chris is a founding Partner at Siren Studios, a production services company in the heart of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. His upcoming projects include LA WOMAN RISING with Rosario Dawson, INHERENT GOOD with Trae Crowder, and SSX. Previously, Chris was an Investment Banker with JPMorgan and graduated from UC Berkeley.

Omar Martín Arboláez - Producer

My name is Omar Martin and I was born in Santa Clara, a city that can be properly understood as the capital of gay people in Cuba. So, I am a proud member of our LGBTQ community. I used to study journalism at the local University, but I left college after a deep reflection of the role of a journalist in a country like Cuba. Soon after, I dedicated my life to spiritual rewards, like Santeria, the religion that Cubans have inherited from Nigeria, and working with tourism through AirB&B, which has allowed me to create a cultural bond with foreign travellers. Meanwhile, I devote all my free hours to writing for AHS, which is a cultural organization for young artists and writers in Cuba. My main interests of study and work continue to be Afrocuban religiosity and the place of gay people in Cuban culture.


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