Berlinale: Programme

Film File

Panorama 40

Split – William to Chrysis; Portrait of a Drag Queen

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A cinematic tribute to transgender celebrity International Chrysis (1951-1990). Rejected by his parents, this effeminate Bronx boy was desperate to be more than just William, and so he created Chrysis. With bright red hair, a voluptuous bosom and disarming smile, she made a living as a sex worker and began conquering the stages of ever larger Manhattan nightclubs. She won Andy Warhol’s affection, became Salvador Dalí’s muse and matured into an international underground star of the 1980s with her charismatic performances. Consciously combining femininity and masculinity, Chrysis was a gay man who constantly redesigned himself as a woman, inspired by icons like Rita Hayworth and Mae West, but also by her own surreal fantasies. Driven by a formidable determination, she lived a life of extremes motivated by the constant search for perfect harmony. Archive footage of her performances, including her Berlin show with the legendary Hot Peaches, as well as interviews with fellow travellers who share their memories of her, reveal a multi-faceted personality who saw her identity as a perpetual cross-over. Chrysis died at the age of 39 as a result of the many medical interventions on her body.

Ellen Fisher Turk
Andrew Weeks

USA 1992


Documentary form
58’ · Colour · Betacam SP


International Chrysis


Ellen Fisher Turk, Andrew Weeks
Dan Chayefsky
Ellen Fisher Turk, Nick Manning, Mirjana Gall, Jaqueline Escolar, Hank Rifkin, Josh Pease
Peter Ringer, Keith Brown
Nino Rota, Hot Peaches Review
Ellen Fisher Turk


Ellen Fisher Turk

Works as a photographer and video artist, as well as a radio journalist, also deploying her photography and video skills in her therapeutic work with women. Since 1995 she has also worked as a trained special instructor with pre-school children with developmental delays, children with autism spectrum disorders, children who do not speak and children who have emotional problems.


1992 Split - William to Chrysis; Portrait of a Drag Queen; co-director: Andrew Weeks; documentary; Panorama 1995 Children's Symphonia; video documentary 2001 Susan's Story; short video documentary 2002 Justine’s Story; short video documentary 2016 Vivian; video documentary

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019

Andrew Weeks

After working in the music business, he entered the British film industry in the early 1970s and initially worked in the production of feature films and television series. He went on to produce, write and direct a variety of documentaries, informational and promotional films. In the 1990s, he combined making ethnographic documentaries with advising film distribution companies. In the 2000s, he focused on documenting Maya culture in the highlands of today’s Guatemala. He is currently working on non-film-related projects.


1992 Split - William to Chrysis; Portrait of a Drag Queen; co-director: Ellen Fisher Turk; documentary; Panorama 1998 Edgewalker; A Conversation with Linda Schele; documentary 2009 Balancing the Cosmos; Living Traditions in a Modern Maya City; documentary · A Deer Dance in Belize; short documentary film 2012 Travelling with the Bauls of Bengal; short documentary film

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019

Produced by

Ellen Fisher Turk

World Sales

Ellen Fisher Turk