Prodigal Sons

An extraordinary family reveals a surprisingly universal story about identity, gender, adoption, & mental illness.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
86 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


PRODIGAL SONS, “a whiplash doc by an exciting new talent” (SF Weekly), was selected by VIDEO LIBRARIAN as one of the top films of the year, landed on ten more similar "Best Films of the Year" lists, and won 13 awards, including the FIPRESCI prize. PRODIGAL SONS was nominated for the Cinema Eye Honors’ Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film award, and GLAAD Media Awards’ Outstanding Documentary award.

Featured review

PRODIGAL SONS is the most powerful and thought provoking documentary I have seen.It captures the complexities and uniquenesses that families face such as mental illness, adoption, sibling relationships, death of a family member, gender identity, sexual orientation, and functionality in the community.There is so much to learn from this film and so many conversations to have. Every sociology or family education class, every church, and every family should take the opportunity to watch and learn from the experiences of the McKerrow family. The fabric of your family will be stronger.
John I. Wilson
Former Executive Director, National Education Association


“If Kimberly Reed had simply set out to document her coming-of-age in western Montana, departure for the big city and eventual homecoming at her high-school reunion, it would have made a fine film. Had she chosen to weave in the story of her adopted brother, whose checkered youth and a tragic injury left him with severe physical and emotional scars, well, that could have been all the richer.

But PRODIGAL SONS isn't content to tell a story like any other film. Revelations fly and the plots twist from intimate family portraiture to a history of the love child of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. It's a potent cocktail of gender and genetics and Reed faces the challenge of telling a deeply personal story with uncommon courage.”

–David Wilson, Director , True/False Film Festival


Do not miss this film!... Compellingly Universal
David Wiegand
San Francisco Chronicle
PRODIGAL SONS reveals the multidimensionality of identity and the complexities of family dynamics. The film tells a gripping story that provides a nuanced exploration of transgender issues and so much more. A valuable teaching tool for classes in gender and sexuality studies, history, and film studies. Incredibly moving, this film will spark vibrant discussions.Kimberly Reed is an exceptionally talented speaker. Her experience is both unique and completely relatable. Years after her visit to my college, students are still talking about how inspired they were by her talk.
Audrey Bilger
Ph.D. Faculty Director, Center for Writing & Public Discourse, Professor of Literature, Claremont McKenna College
A Work of Genius!PRODIGAL SONS is made with elegance and passion and a searing honesty that can very nearly break one's heart.
Andrew Solomon
author of National Book Award-winning FAR FROM THE TREE
With its mix of mental health concerns, gender identity issues, and movie royalty, PRODIGAL SONS is a compelling record of family friction taken to unexpected and often tragic extremes.
VIDEO LIBRARIAN - Best Documentaries of the Year list
highly recommended
It's one of the very best films of the year, whichever year it belongs to. The film begins as a personal diary/essay about a homecoming. Paul, a high school football hero, left Montana years ago and is returning as Kimberly. Unlike most documentaries which have very clear agendas, Reed allows her own story to grow organically as it plays and she loses much of the star focus to her adopted brother and the tensions and relationships within her family. The movie, to its great credit, becomes less and less of a vanity project and more and more a spectacular study of identity politics and family. The director and star is a gorgeous articulate transgender woman with a very specific story to tell but this is a movie that everyone should see, no matter how they self-identify.
Nathaniel Rogers

Awards and Screenings

Appeared on 10+ "BEST FILM OF THE YEAR" lists
100+ Film Festival screenings
Telluride film festival World Premiere
Winner— FIPRESCI int'l critics' Prize for Best Film, Thessaloniki
Winner— Special Jury Prize for Fearless Filmmaking, Florida
Winner— Special Jury Prize for Bravery in Storytelling, Nashville
Winner— Best Documentary Jury Prize, NewFest
Winner— Best Documentary Jury Prize, Spokane Int'l
Winner— Best Documentary Jury Prize, Copenhagen LGBT
Winner— Best Documentary Jury Prize, Tampa Int'l
Winner— Best Documentary Jury Prize, Kashish-Mumbai Queer
Winner— Best Documentary Jury Prize, Gender DocuFilm Fest
Winner— Audience award, Dublin GAZE Int'l film fest
Winner— Audience award, Spokane Int'l film fest
Winner— Honorable Mention, Viennale international film festival
Winner— Volunteer Award, Frameline - San Francisco Int'l LGBT
Winner—"Best of Fest" top-ten audience award - Palm Springs

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • DVD Extras
  • Transcript

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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