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Directed by Renee Mao, Savannah O'Leary

Cast: Blvck Lae D., Crystal Mesh, Esther, Jay Kay, Kuby, Magenta, Panthera Lush, West Dakota

The Making of Panthera is a character-driven documentary short about 25-year-old Brooklyn-based drag queen Panthera Lush, whose awe-inspiring creations are the product of hundreds of painstaking hours spent at the sewing machine. With her inventive, couture-worthy looks, Panthera elevates drag to the status of fine art. Weaving cinéma vérité and choreographed drama, this documentary short invites you to gallivant around Panthera’s Brooklyn — in her dressing room, backstage, and at a 2 a.m. diner run with friends. Somewhere along the way, we learn just what it is about drag that has captivated today’s culture.

Directors’ Bio

Renee Mao is an Australian director based in NYC whose work is rooted in powerful, narrative-driven visual storytelling that often tackles emotional, intimate subjects. Before moving to New York to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she spent several years living in Beijing, to which she credits the beginnings of her creative pursuits and distinctive visual style. Her most recent short film, The Last Line, premiered at the Austin Film Festival and her works have been featured by numerous publications including Huffington Post, Dazed magazine, Ad Age, SIMPL Mag, Flux, Booooooom TV, Director’s Notes and Vimeo Staff Picks.

Savannah is a New York-based director and editor. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently the Head of Video at Purpose, where she produces and directs work for clients such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, UNICEF, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. She’s an experienced video journalist, and her editorial work has been featured by such publications as The Huffington Post and Dazed Magazine.


Plays in


The eight shorts in the NSF19 OPENING NITE program feature documentaries on New York communities, Brooklyn drag culture, and a firefighter’s love of cinema along with narrative stories about immigration, coming of age, sex, and self-pleasure.

Dates & Times


Nitehawk Cinema Williamsburg

Tue, Nov 12
7:00 pm