Film Image
Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles
7 minutes

Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles

TRANS LIVES MATTER! JUSTICE FOR ISLAN NETTLES is a powerful and moving document of a community vigil for Islan Nettles, a Transgender Womyn of Color who was beaten to death in front of a New York Police Department precinct in Harlem. When Islan was taken off life support on August 22, 2013, she was only 21.

​​Islan was a vibrant 21-year-old Transgender Womyn of Color growing up in Harlem, who loved hanging out with her Transgender sisters of color. Islan used her creative and positive energy along with her anti-violence values in her work as an assistant photographer and fashion instructor at the Harlem Children’s Zone. At the time of her murder, she was working as an intern assistant designer in Harlem.

A few days after her death, Islan's family and friends held a vigil at Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem, steps away from where she was murdered. With video and still images, Seyi Adebanjo documents the vigil and captures the love and support that the Transgender and Gender-Non-Conforming community brought to sustain each other and Islan's family during this emotional time.

Seyi Adebanjo's short film TRANS LIVES MATTER! JUSTICE FOR ISLAN NETTLES is part of the multimedia photography piece of the same name. The exhibit took place at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and was created in collaboration with the Queer/Art/Mentorship program.
​​"Transgender woman Islan Nettles was beaten to death in front of a police precint in Harlem... This documentary brilliantly embody the pain, anger, and solidarity felt by vigil attendees. It is an effective, thought-provoking piece...Recommended". ​ - Video Librarian
"A short film originally included in a multimedia exhibition captures audio and still photos of a demonstration over the death of black transgender woman Islan Nettles, at a time in American society when many 'normally' gendered people apparently feel threatened by transgenders". ​ - Anthropology Review Database
"Adebanjo captured the anger and sadness that soon galvanized the transgender community to fight for their own causes. The film is a mashup of photography, sound and video that crescendos in emotion. Most of Adebanjo's visual work focuses on social justice and activism, and this one was no different." - Kiratiana Freelon, Shadow and Act Blog
• The Stream, Al Jazeera America
• Bronx Documentary Center
• San Francisco Transgender Film Festival
• Minneapolis Underground Film Festival
• BlackTinX Performance Series
• Sydney Transgender International Film Festival
• Madrid International Lesbian Gay & Transexual Film Festival
• Gender Reel Performance & Film Festival
• Black Star Film Festival
• BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival
• UFVA Conference in Montana
• PBS Channel 13, Broadcast
• Rush Arts and Corridor Gallery
• Pride of the Ocean’s LGBT Film festival on the High Seas
• CineSLAM - Vermont’s LGBTQ Short Film Festival
• Black Trans Media
• New York Live Arts
• ImageNation
• Bed Stuy Pop Up Cinema
• YeYo Arts Collective
• Gender Reel NYU: Transgender Film Festival
• Brooklyn Museum
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TWN acknowledges that in New York we are on the unceded territory of the Lenni Lenape, Canarsie, Shinecock, and Munsee peoples and challenges the harm that continues to be inflicted upon Indigenous and People of Color communities here and abroad, which is why we all need to be part of the struggle for rights, equality and justice.

TWN is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Color Congress, MOSAIC, New York Community Trust, Peace Development Fund, Humanities NY, Ford Foundation, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and individual donors.