Boys Don’t Cry is a 1999 American independent romantic drama film directed by Kimberly Peirce and co-written by Andy Bienen. The film is a dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena, a trans man played in the film by Hilary Swank, who is beaten, raped and murdered by his male acquaintances after they discover he is anatomically female. The picture explores the themes of freedom, courage, identity and empowerment. After reading about the murder of Brandon Teena while in college, Peirce intently researched the case, as well as Teena’s life, and worked on a screenplay for the film for almost five years. All She Wanted, the 1996 book about the case written by Aphrodite Jones inspired Peirce, but she chose to focus the story on the relationship between Brandon and his girlfriend Lana Tisdel. Many actors campaigned for the lead over the course of three years; a then unknown Swank was cast because her personality seemed similar to Teena’s. Boys Don’t Cry premiered at the New York Film Festival in 1999 to overwhelmingly positive acclaim from critics and was widely cited as one of the best films of the year. Praise was specifically focused on the two lead performances by Swank and Sevigny.