WINNER: AUDIENCE CHOICE Paley Center for New Media Doc Pitch | TOP FILMS FOR 2021 Sebastopol Doc Film Festival - OUTWATCH | Video Librarian: PRIDE MONTH PICK | The Advocate: RECOMMENDED | DOC NYC: RECOMMENDED | Alliance of Female Film Journalists: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED | OFFICIAL SELECTION: Athena Film Festival, New Fest, Nantucket Film Festival, Bentonville Film Festival | Montclair Film Festival : Trans Affirming Featured Film
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion • LGBTQ+ • Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies • Artistic Expression & Performance Studies • Children, Youth & Families • Aging • Film, Journalism & Media Studies • Biographies
Date of Completion: 2020 | Run Time: 73 minutes | Language: English | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript & Study Guide | Director: Susan Sandler | Producer: Susan Sandler
In the comedy boom of the 80’s Rick Scotti was in high demand—headlining in clubs across the country, on bills with Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld—when he came to the dawning realization that nothing felt right. At a time when the words gender dysphoria and gender reassignment surgery were rarely heard, Rick’s true awakening led to a new identity as Julia Scotti. And then the doors shut tight. Everyone turned away—former wives, friends, comedy world buddies, and most painfully, Julia was shut out from any contact with her children. She reinvented herself, spent a decade teaching, and then stepped back on stage to begin her journey back to comedy. In that same period, her children reached out to her after 15 years of separation. Shot over a period of five years, JULIA SCOTTI: FUNNY THAT WAY tracks Julia’s triumphant comeback, the complex process of reuniting with her children, and the way that comedy becomes a shared language of identity, healing and joy.
Educational Media Reviews Online | Kimberly Poppiti, St. Joseph's University, Patchogue, NY
Highly Recommended "The overall message of Julia Scotti: Funny That Way is one of self-acceptance, which seems apt to resonate with viewers in various fields. It is likely to be of greatest interest to those in the fields of communication, LGBTQ+, and women’s or gender studies."
Booklist | Candace Smith
"By turns hilarious and touching, this program presents the gender quest in a fresh, effective way."
The Guardian | Leaf Arbuthnot
★★★★☆ "[A] film of real compassion, that will stay with you long after its (zippy) runtime is over."
New York University Tisch School of the Arts | Prof. John Canemaker, Academy Award Winner, Head of Animation
“Julia Scotti: Funny That Way is, in my opinion, one of the most empathetic, emotionally engaging and joyful depictions of identity diversity and gender reassignment issues yet seen in films.”
University of St. Joseph | Dr. Mary Alice Wolf, Professor Emeritus of Human Development and Gerontology
“This timely and deeply joyful film speaks to the opening of doors, realization of change and revelation across the threshold of social, developmental and psychological growth in the adult years. A lively, emotionally rewarding film that will enrich a wide range of curriculum.”
Hammer to Nail | Melanie Addington
"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."
PRIDE MONTH PICK "A strong addition to queer-oriented shelves."
"[T]he remarkable rise and return of 'the crazy old lady of comedy.'"
Alliance of Female Film Journalists | Review by Susan Wloszczyna
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED "[R]efreshingly honest and moving"
“A must see!”
Gay City News | Review by Christopher Byrne
“Julia Scotti: Funny That Way is in its own way a tiny epic. It has a quest, tests of foundational beliefs, demons to be fought, transformations, and a hero to root for. Like any classic epic, it’s virtually impossible not to be drawn in, moved, and come to care deeply for the hero. And, at times, you’ll laugh yourself silly.”
Film Threat | Review by Rob Rector
“Whether she is on a stand-up stage, speaking with families of LGBTQIA members, or just hanging at home with her family, Scotti's passion for performance and healing with humor pervades every scene.”
Edge Media Network | Review by Kilian Melloy
“a triumph not only for the comedian herself, but for audiences who need to hear from trans people about their own lived experiences and who, not incidentally, need a good laugh.”
Unseen Films | Review By Steve Kopian
“Julia Scotti: Funny That Way is highly recommended on the level of this is going to be one of your most cherished films of the year"
Awards Daily | Review By Joey Moser
“When you perform with such honesty and heart, you can make everyone laugh because they connect with you. Susan Sandler’s new documentary, Julia Scotti: Funny That Way, gives the comic the chance to explore her own history and share it with us.”
The Queer Review | Review By James Kleinmann
“Laughter is a powerful way to disarm, break down barriers, and potentially make people question their own prejudices, so it’s heartening to see the warm reception that Julia receives as she tours mainstream comedy venues, often in conservative regions..."
Washington Blade | Review by John Paul King
“[Scotti’s] willingness to use those gifts as a means to open eyes and minds to the experience of trans people, and Sandler crafts her movie to highlight that aspect of Scotti’s persona, creating a portrait of someone who has transcended personal struggles to become a beacon for empathy and understanding – without losing her sense of humor in the process."
Jumpcut Online | Review By Hamish Calvert
“A funny, charming and at times emotional story of a woman and her family, this documentary is an honest and incredibly approachable addition to the ever expanding genre of queer, and more specifically, trans cinema"
Set the Tape | Review By Amy Walker
“really well made and thoughtful look at a woman who’s putting herself front and centre, who’s opening herself up to hate and criticism for who she is, all in the pursuit of bringing people joy and laughter”
Audience Choice Award | Paley Center for New Media's DOC PITCH
Official Selection | Athena Film Festival
Official Selection | New Fest
Official Selection | Nantucket Film Festival
Official Selection | Bentonville Film Festival
Trans Affirming Featured Film | Montclair Film Festival
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH JULIA SCOTTI
Featured perspective in JULIA SCOTTI: FUNNY THAT WAY
The Italian word corposo refers to a rich, full-bodied wine. Rich and full-bodied is also an appropriate descriptor for the life of comedian Julia Scotti. Since 1980, Julia has been honing her craft in clubs and theaters throughout the United States and Canada, performing for the first 20 years as Rick Scotti, and now, after a ten-year hiatus, as Julia Scotti for the second 20. Her second act has been the very definition of Corposo.
The new and improved Julia has been described by colleagues and press as, among other things, “a force of nature”, and “a comedy chainsaw flying through the room”. As Julia says, her comedy always must be “fearless and honest”, and America can feel both in her performances. Since coming back to comedy, she has been named one of the Top Five Transgender Comedians in the Country by Advocate Magazine, and has performed at LGBTQ events across the country, and was one of the winners of the Laughlin Laugh Festival in Nevada. But she wasn’t done yet.
Simon Cowell said that “you genuinely made me laugh” as she introduced herself to a national audience on Season 11 of America’s Got Talent. She was the first transgender comedian to appear on national television and was a quarter-finalist on the show.
Not content to sit on her laurels, Julia went on to record her first, best-selling comedy CD entitled, “Hello Boys I’m Back!” and is preparing her second for release from 800 Pound Gorilla Records. She is currently featured on the Showtime Television Network Special, “More Funny Women of a Certain Age.” As a nationally headling comedian, former teacher and transgendered woman, Julia offers the perfect balance of heartfelt honesty, emotional understanding and hilarious observations as she talks about what it’s like to be different in her lively speaking engagements at educational conferences and corporarte retreats.
After several eventful years of working with director Susan Sandler, the documentary portrait “Julia Scotti: Funny that Way” is now released by 1091 Pictures. Julia suggested that the film have “Part I” added to the title, because she’s only just begun. If Julia were a wine, she’d be aged just right. And she’d definitely be molto Corposo.
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH FILMMAKER SUSAN SANDLER
Director & Producer of JULIA SCOTTI: FUNNY THAT WAY
Susan Sandler’s work as a director and writer spans both non-fiction and fiction, including the screenplay for the Golden Globe nominated Crossing Delancey (based on her original play) and the award winning Friends At Last starring Kathleen Turner and Sarah Paulson, as well as projects for Sony, Twentieth Century Studios, Disney, TNT, and Columbia. Most recently, she directed and produced the feature documentary Julia Scotti: Funny That Way. Shot over five years, the film follows the triumphant comeback of transgender comedian Julia Scotti (last seen headlining decades ago as Rick Scotti) as she comes out on America’s Got Talent, her children reconnect after a fifteen-year estrangement, and she makes her return to standup comedy. Passport Magazine calls the film “an absolute celebration that challenges stereotypes, transphobia, and agism, while making the viewer laugh and fall in love with Scotti. It’s the perfect uplifting documentary that needs to be seen.”
Sandler’s work for the stage has been produced at major theatres across the country, and around the world. Along with Crossing Delancey, her plays include Under the Bed, The Renovation, The Moaner, If I Were A Train, The Find, and The Burial Society (produced for NPR’s Playing on Air.) She is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Writers Guild of America. Sandler’s work is published by Smith and Kraus, Vintage Press, and Samuel French Publishers. She is on the faculty of NYU Tisch School of the Arts Kanbar Institute of Film & Television. Along with her teaching, she has passionately guided NYU’s Fusion Film Festival since its inception, celebrating the work of women behind the camera, and mentoring the next generation of innovators in film and new media.