Espresso to globally represent LGBTQ documentary "Art and Pep"

The film tells the true story of Art Johnston and José Pepe Peña, civil rights leaders whose life and love was a force behind LGBTQ+ equality.

27 APR 2022

"Art and Pep"

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Espresso Media International have acquired worldwide distribution rights to "Art and Pep" (1x88’ 4K), a new feature documentary exploring the incredible lives and love story of Art Johnston and José Pepe Peña, two LGBT activists. Their iconic gay bar, Sidetrack, has fuelled movements and created community for decades in Chicago’s queer enclave.

While Art and Pep never set out to be activists, for them inaction was never an option. From being on the front lines of the AIDS crisis to co-founding Equality Illinois, Art and Pep have been leading the fight all along, helping Illinois become one of most progressive protectors of LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. Art and Pep not only tells the inspiring story of their fight to love freely, but also introduces the changemakers they’ve inspired – from politicians to community organisers.

“We are truly proud to be representing 'Art and Pep', from the extraordinary talented team at Daisy May Films. At its core this a gorgeous, charming, decades-long love story, but it’s also a history of activism and the importance of community and safe spaces - which we have seen rocked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Jessica Reilly, Espresso’s Head of Sales and Acquisitions.Art & Pep are iconic trailblazers in the LGBT+ community and it’s incredible to witness the clout they’ve built from being pioneers during the AIDS crisis to the important work around Black Lives Matter, Trans rights and much more. This story is truly a living history, and we are honoured to be sharing Daisy May Films inspiring and powerful work with the world.”

“Art and Pep exemplifies the power of love. Because Art fell in love with Pep, he stayed in Chicago and they eventually opened Sidetrack, a space that’s allowed them to extend that love to the community. Their love gave them the strength to fight for human rights, building the political clout they needed to win those rights. It was love that got them started and love that’s kept them going for almost 50 years together, even through two pandemics,” says Art and Pep director, Mercedes Kane. “As a director, it’s a dream to tell a love story of this magnitude with the potential to impact and inspire so many. There is no better partner than the team at Espresso Media who believe in the importance of getting Art and Pep’s multidimensional love story to the broadest possible audience. We feel incredibly lucky to have their passion and expertise on our side.”