NYWIFT Member Screening: Mama Gloria

Join us for this month’s virtual NYWIFT Member Screening of Luchina Fisher’s documentary Mama Gloria, produced by member Zainab Ali, in recognition of Transgender Awareness Week. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the creative team and renowned transgender activist Gloria Allen, moderated by NYWIFT Board Member Leslie Fields-Cruz.

Watch the film: Any time Thursday, November 18th at 3 PM through Monday, November 22nd at 11:59 PM

Watch the Q&A: Monday, November 22nd at 5 PM ET

Cost to attend: FREE for NYWIFT members; $2 for non-members

Please register in advance in order to receive the links.

The NYWIFT Member Screening Series provides members with the opportunity to show their work in a theatrical setting (or in this case, a virtual theatrical setting). We hope you will join us in celebrating the work of our talented NYWIFT members!


Please note: if you would like to “bring” a guest, the guest must be registered separately with a separate email address – links to view the films are individually crafted for each registered email.

About the Film

Mama Gloria
Luchina Fisher (Director)
Zainab Ali (NYWIFT Member, Producer)
2020, 70 min.

Mama Gloria is an intimate profile of Gloria Allen, a trailblazing 75-year-old Black transgender activist who started a charm school for homeless trans youth in Chicago and is now aging with joy and grace. It is the story of a mother’s love — the love that Gloria’s mother had for her and the love that Gloria has for her chosen children. And it is driven by the love that director Luchina Fisher has for her daughter, Gia.



Luchina Fisher (Director) is an award-winning writer, director and producer whose work is at the intersection of race, gender and identity. Her feature directorial debut Mama Gloria premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival and BFI Flare London; won Best Film at CineOdyssey, Best Documentary at Teaneck International and the Black Lens Award at Milwaukee Film Festival; and made its broadcast debut on World channel, where it is currently streaming, along with PBS. Previously, Luchina co-executive produced and co-wrote the critically acclaimed feature documentary Birthright: A War Story, which appeared in more than 70 theaters nationwide, qualified for Oscar consideration and streamed on Hulu. She is the director of two scripted short films, including Danger Word, and has written and produced several nationally broadcast documentaries as well as numerous segments for television. She most recently produced two episodes of the upcoming History channel series with President Bill Clinton. Luchina began her career as a journalist and has written for People, the Miami Herald, The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine and ABCNews.com. Luchina is a Sisters in Cinema Documentary Fellow and a member of Brown Girl Doc Mafia and the Black Documentary Collective. She is an inaugural recipient of the Brown Girl Doc Mafia Black Director’s Grant.

Gloria Allen is an elder transgender advocate and community activist. Known as Mama Gloria, she founded and ran a charm school for homeless trans youth at Chicago’s Center on Halsted. The play Charm was based on Gloria’s life and school and premiered at Steppenwolf Garage Theater before traveling to Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and New York. For her work with the charm school, Gloria was awarded the Living Legend Award by Janet Mock and Precious Brady-Davis at the 2014 Trans 100 Awards. She is the star of the documentary, Mama Gloria, which made its broadcast premiere on WORLD Channel in April and is currently streaming on PBS and WORLD. Gloria grew up in Chicago amid the legendary drag balls on the city’s South Side and transitioned before Stonewall with the love and support of her mother and grandmother. She earned a LPN and worked at the University of Chicago Hospital and in private homes as a nurse’s aide. Now retired, Gloria lives in the LGBTQ-friendly senior residence Town Hall Apartments and continues to speak to youth and others about the transgender community. For her work and activism, Gloria received the SAGE Advocacy Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging Issues at the 2021 Creating Change Conference.

Zainab Ali (Producer) is an award-winning producer of independent film with a background as a senior recruiter for major corporations including Lucasfilm, Charles Schwab, and Gap Inc. She transitioned into filmmaking in her fifties when she created ZAG Media Productions and produced two short films; including Danger Word, which was nominated for best narrative short by the Pan African and BronzeLens film festivals and has appeared on the Aspire Network. Her latest film, Mama Gloria, made its world premiere at the Chicago International Film Festival in October 2020 and went on to win Best Documentary at the Teaneck International Film Festival, and had its broadcast premiere on PBS in April 2021. Zainab is a life-long film enthusiast, who grew up in North Philadelphia, and earned a BA degree in Journalism from Temple University. She inspires creatives as well as investors to collaborate on stories that transcend boundaries. She is an advocate for caregivers over 50 years old with careers and a member of Film Independent, NYWIFT, and The Gotham.

NYWIFT VP of Programming Leslie Fields-Cruz (Moderator) started at Black Public Media, formerly National Black Programming Consortium, in 2001 managing grant making activities that supported the production and development of documentary programs for PBS. By 2005, she was the Director of Programming, leading the distribution of all funded programs to public television. In 2008, with six independent titles in need of a public television broadcast, Leslie launched AfroPoP: The Ultimately Cultural Exchange, a documentary series highlighting the variety and depth of the global black experience. AfroPoP has garnered several awards and is the only national public television series focused solely on stories from the black experience. In the fall of 2014, Leslie became BPM’s third Executive Director. Though she keeps the pulse on the development of program content and its distribution across public media platforms, she is focused on growing BPM’s resources to enable it to support more stories about the Black experience.

Presented in partnership with


The NYWIFT Member Screening Series is produced by Katie Chambers

Special thanks to Carlina Rivera and the New York City 2nd Council District
for discretionary funding for the NYWIFT Member Screening Series.

November 22 @ 5:00pm
5:00 pm — 6:00 pm (1h)

Virtual Member Screening
Watch the film on Vimeo and Q&A on Zoom.
Please register to receive links.



Join the conversation on social media:
#nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.