PJ Raval is more recently known as an award-winning filmmaker than he is an ex-scientist, ex-vegetarian, born on tax day.
Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s ‘25 new faces of independent film 2006′ and Out Magazine’s ’100 OUT 2010′, PJ discovered film and video after working with photography and media installation art.
PJ’s previous film TRINIDAD is a feature documentary that uncovers Trinidad, Colorado’s transformation from Wild West outpost to “sex change capital of the world” and follows three influential transgender women who may steer the rural ranching town toward becoming the “transsexual mecca”. Called “a must see” by Ellen Huang (GLAAD), TRINIDAD won the Cleveland International Film Festival Documentary Jury Award and currently can been seen on SHOWTIME as well as MTV’s LOGO network.
PJ’s previous films have won awards such as Best Narrative Short at the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Int’l Film Festival, Best Screenplay at the Cinematexas Int’l Film Festival, the Betty Nowlin Award for Excellence in Filmmaking, and the Director’s Award at the Santa Cruz Film Festival. PJ’s short film LEAD ROLE: FATHER was nominated for the Golden Reel award at the VC Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and named the “programmer’s pick”. In 2004 PJ’s body of film work screened at the Artists’ Television Access (ATA) in San Francisco sponsored by the Alliance of Emerging Creative Artists (AECA), and then again in 2006 as part of the Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival’s Filmmaker Series.
PJ recently completed BEFORE YOU KNOW IT his latest feature documentary following the lives of three gay senior men (SXSW world premiere, IFFBoston, San Francisco International). Slant Magazine hailed BEFORE YOU KNOW IT as an “…exemplary example of a documentary that successfully puts human faces on wider issues, eschewing polemics in favor of the personal.” indieWIRE described the film as “…a crucial new edition to the LGBT doc canon.”
In addition, PJ also continues to collaborate on a collection of work with performer and “drag terrorist” Paul Soileau (a.k.a. CHRISTEENE) under the name “Three dollar Cinema”. Their work has screened at SXSW (2010, 2011, 2012) and various underground, above ground, and art venues internationally. Banned from YOUTUBE and FACEBOOK alike, their collaborative efforts is best summed up by the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER as “…something you desperately wish you could unsee…” Their collaborative work was nominated for an Austin Critics Table Award in 2010 and recently PJ and Paul were invited to the CentralTrak Artist Residency Program, University of Texas Dallas to create a new video series based off of stories from the Old Testament.
PJ is currently developing a feature fiction narrative with acclaimed screenwriter and playwright Prince Gomolvilas (Big Hunk o’ Burnin’ Love, The Theory of Everything, stage adaptation of Mysterious Skin, based on the novel by Scott Heim.) PJ has also been making a name for himself as a music video director for various bands and musical performers (Wild Beasts, The Sword, Mistress Stephanie & Her Melodic Cat) and recently directed a segment called “Rantings” part of the 2011 remake of Richard Linklater’s indie classic SLACKER.
Also an award-winning cinematographer, PJ’s work has been showcased at both Sundance and Cannes and earned him awards such as the ASC Charles B. Lang Jr. Heritage Award as well as the Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography. PJ has been featured in AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER and shot the 2009 Academy Award nominated and 2008 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Grand Jury Award Winner TROUBLE THE WATER produced/directed by FAHRENHEIT 9/11 producers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal. Manohla Dargis with THE NEW YORK TIMES called the film “SUPERB… One of the best American documentaries in recent memory.” PJ’s feature cinematography credits also include, the 2006 Independent Spirit Award nominated ROOM (Sundance, Cannes), the Los Angeles Film Festival Narrative Feature Award winner GRETCHEN, and SUNSET STORIES (SXSW 2012, VC Los Angeles Asian American Film Festival Centerpiece) directed by Silas Howard (BY HOOK OR BY CROOK) & Ernesto Foronda (BETTER LUCK TOMORROW).
PJ also shot FOURPLAY, four true tales about sexual intimacy, his second feature with acclaimed director Kyle Henry, produced by Jason Wehling and executive produced by Michael Stipe and Jim McKay. One of the stories, FOURPLAY TAMPA, premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival as well as the Sundance Film Festival and FOURPLAY SAN FRANCISCO recently won “Best Narrative Short” at the 2011 NewFest Film Festival. PJ also recently shot HABIBI RASAK KHARBAN a story of forbidden love and the first fiction feature set in Gaza in over 15 years directed by Susan Youssef (WINNER FIPRESCI PRIZE BEST FEATURE, WINNER BEST ARAB FEATURE Dubai International Film Festival 2011, Official Selection 2011 Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival) as well as PRIMATE CINEMA: APES AS FAMILY the first film created for a chimpanzee audience directed by Rachel Mayeri. Most recently PJ lensed Bryan Poyser’s highly anticipated feature THE BOUNCEBACK (SXSW 2013).
In his spare time PJ likes to try and take small naps and pretend he knows ballet.