READ: Marsha P. Johnson Film Archivist Issues Statement Supporting Accusations of Theft

By Sameer Rao Oct 12, 2017

At least one person who worked on "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson" believes director David France plagiarized Reina Gossett’s work.

Digital archivist Kamran Shahraray, who uses the pronoun they, told Mother Jones yesterday (October 11) that they worked on France’s documentary about the pioneering trans activist between June and August 2016. After reading about Gossett’s accusations that France stole the concept behind her short film, "Happy Birthday, Marsha," Shahraray issued the following statement to Mother Jones: 

As someone “who knows the archives better than anyone else here” by David’s own admission, Reina’s account confirms many suspicions that had come up for me whilst going through the archival footage and research. Reina’s entire Vimeo was on the hard drives, down to the exact resolution and clip length and her name appeared throughout other materials. Based on what I have seen, undoubtedly someone at some point made heavy usage of her work and research, and to say this didn’t happen is a bold-faced lie which flies in the face of all available evidence.

France defended himself in an interview with Mother Jones. "I’m afraid that Kamran misunderstood the process of research and documentary filmmaking,” he said. “The deeper question is: Did we learn anything from finding those videos on her Vimeo page? And that answer is no.”