This is member-exclusive content
icon/ui/info filled

arts entertainmentMovies

Cheryl Allison rescued a famous Dallas goose and is now winning raves for her landmark LGBTQ movie

‘Pieces of Us’ will be among the headliners at Bart Weiss’ final docufest at Dallas VideoFest.

Dallas’ own Cheryl Allison directs the film Pieces of Us, which was chosen as a headliner for Bart Weiss’ last-ever “docufest” at Dallas VideoFest. It screens on Sept. 30 at the Angelika at Mockingbird Station.

Pieces of Us, which delves into the personal journeys of LGBTQ+ hate crime survivors by focusing on the survivors and not the crimes, recently won a major award at the Fargo, N.D., LGBT Film Festival. Allison herself won for artistic achievement in directing at the qFLIX Philadelphia film festival.

But when they hear her name, many people in Dallas may be compelled to say, “Oh, yeah, her!” And it won’t have anything to do with Allison or her litany of austere accomplishments in theater and film.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it,” she says. “I’ve been in this business as an actress, a director and filmmaker for more than 30 years, but it took a goose to get me any notoriety.”

That’s right, a goose. During the early days of the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, Allison was taking a walk near her home in the Turtle Creek area. She happened upon a goose, which she could tell right away was in terrible trouble.

Allison ended up saving the life of the goose, which she named Honk. She found refuge for Honk at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Hutchins, where he’s thriving. As with many things in her life, Honk also became fodder for a film, titled, of course, Honk.

“Honk has almost 80,000 followers on Instagram,” Allison says. “People all over the world became invested in his journey and in his safety.”

Prince Manvendra of India is shown at the New York City World Pride Parade. He is profiled in Cheryl Allison's film "Pieces of Us."
Prince Manvendra of India is shown at the New York City World Pride Parade. He is profiled in Cheryl Allison's film "Pieces of Us."

And ironically, you could say the same about the winning band of characters in Pieces of Us, “who have bravely chosen to take their recovery public. By doing that, they have formed this beautiful community of support, where they are now paying it forward to help others.”

Rather than focus on the chilling acts that made these people victims, Allison turns instead to “what happens after — the healing, the recovery — and it’s actually a story of hope. And inspiration.”

The cast includes a school psychologist who’s a well-known gay rapper. He was beaten up on a New York City subway, but the principal at the school where he works led a movement that championed his recovery.

He’s joined in Pieces of Us by “the only openly gay royal in the world” — a prince who lives in India. When the prince “came out,” his family disowned him. Death threats followed, but he bravely weathered all of it. “One person in our film,” Allison says, “refers to him as ‘the Gandhi of our community.’ "

J.P. Masterson is a school psychologist and gay rapper who appears in Cheryl Allison's film "Pieces of Us."
J.P. Masterson is a school psychologist and gay rapper who appears in Cheryl Allison's film "Pieces of Us."

Allison took her cameras to New York City, India and Denver, where the focus became a woman named Leia Pierce, whose 9-year-old son committed suicide after being bullied at school.

At a recent festival in Palm Springs, Calif., Allison says people approached her after the screening, saying, “I want to thank you for not making this about the hate, making it about the hope and surviving.”

So, it’s fitting that her film ends with all of her survivors on a float in the New York City World Pride Parade.

She’s taking Pieces of Us to 11 festivals and hopes to place it in schools and even churches. She sees it as instrument of change.

“I’m so honored to be in Bart’s final hurrah,” she says. “Because Bart has supported me as a filmmaker and my films. It all goes back to the support that he gives local and independent filmmakers. He is truly a gift.”

Leia Perce is one of the people profiled in Cheryl Allison's new film, "Pieces of Us."
Leia Perce is one of the people profiled in Cheryl Allison's new film, "Pieces of Us."

Michael Granberry, Arts Writer. Michael Granberry was born and grew up in Dallas. He graduated from Samuell High School in Pleasant Grove in 1970 and from Southern Methodist University in 1974. Between his junior and senior years, he interned at The Washington Post during "the Watergate summer" of 1973. He spent 19 years at the Los Angeles Times before returning to Dallas.

mgranberry@dallasnews.com @mgranberry
Arts & Life

Get the latest Arts & Entertainment

Catch up on North Texas' vibrant arts and culture community, delivered every Monday.

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy