AFI Movie Club: BOYS DON’T CRY – American Film Institute



BOYS DON’T CRY stars Academy Award® winner Hilary Swank in a story based on the life of Brandon Teena, a transgender man from Nebraska who was murdered in 1993.

In this exclusive AFI Archive video, watch BOYS DON’T CRY director Kimberly Peirce speak to the AFI DWW 2014 class:


Movie Trivia about BOYS DON’T CRY

-DID YOU KNOW that Kimberly Peirce directed this feature film four years after making the short film BOYS DON’T CRY on the same subject?

-DID YOU KNOW that Hilary Swank won the lead role over hundreds of others by telling director Kimberly Peirce that, like Brandon Teena, she was also 21 and came from Lincoln, Nebraska? When Peirce later confronted her about lying, Swank responded, “But that’s what Brandon would do.”

-DID YOU KNOW for the role of Brandon Teena’s girlfriend Lana Tisdel, both Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Polley were offered the part? Kimberly Peirce cast Chloë Sevigny after seeing her in THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO.

-DID YOU KNOW that the film was originally given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA not for the violent shot through the head, but for the love scene? Peirce lobbied hard for her cut of the film, but she was ultimately forced to edit the scene in order to receive the R rating that would allow her film to reach a wider audience.

-DID YOU KNOW that the title of the film was taken from a song by The Cure? A cover of “Boys Don’t Cry” by Nathan Larson also plays in the background at one point in the film.

-DID YOU KNOW that the film was made for only $2 million and Hilary Swank was paid only $3,000 for it, earning $75 a day? After Swank won the Oscar® for the role, she said, “I had an Academy Award® but no health insurance.”

-DID YOU KNOW that in 1998, a documentary about Brandon Teena was released called THE BRANDON TEENA STORY? The film was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-Have you seen the documentary THE BRANDON TEENA STORY? What creative liberties did Kimberly Peirce take with Brandon’s story when making BOYS DON’T CRY?

-How is the trans community still one of the most vulnerable demographics within the LGBTQ community? How have we made strides in terms of talking about trans issues/rights over the past 20 years? How do we still have progress to make?

-What do you think about a straight cisgender woman such as Hilary Swank playing a transgender man? How has trans representation increased in recent years on shows such as TRANSPARENT and POSE?

-What does the film convey about toxic masculinity when John Lotter and Tom Nissen discover that Brandon Teena is trans?

-Why do you think the film originally received an NC-17 rating? Are there different standards by the MPAA for depicting violence versus sexuality onscreen? What does that reflect about our society? Are there double standards for showing male versus female sexuality in film?

-How would you rate BOYS DON’T CRY?

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Comments (1)

Judy Swank

Actually, Hilary Swank was born at the same hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, where Brandon Teena was born, that is, Lincoln General. The only difference, I believe, is Brandon was born the year before Hilary, 1973 and 1974, respectively. So, Hilary didn’t actually lie about coming from Lincoln, Nebraska, but she might have given that impression, which is what Brandon would have done.

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