Kimberly Peirce’s directorial debut Boys Don’t Cry opened at the New York Film Festival this day in 1999. Based on the true story of Teena Brandon, a transgendered Nebraska woman, the film’s brutal portrayal of rape and murder contrasts with Peirce’s efforts to demonstrate the humanity of Brandon’s killers. After its release in New York, Boys Don’t Cry was welcomed into the Reel Affirmations International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and was then released to select theaters nationwide. With the many awards that followed, including a Best Actress Oscar for lead Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry became one of the few movies on alternative gender identity to win acclaim both in the gay and lesbian community, and in the mainstream.

Awards: Actress Chloë Sevigny was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her supporting role in the movie, while Hilary Swank won both awards for Best Actress.