The Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter rita bo brown

The Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter rita bo brown
digital video, USA, 47 minutes, 2017

Short Description: The story of rita bo brown, a working-class butch from rural Oregon, an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, ex-prisoner and member of the militant, underground George Jackson Brigade, active in the 1970s in the Pacific Northwest.

Long Description: The Gentleman Bank Robber is a portrait of revolutionary rita bo brown, a white working class butch from rural Oregon who became known as “The Gentleman Bank Robber” in the 1970s for combining her butch style of dress with a polite way of demanding funds from bank tellers. The film moves between everyday moments with bo in and around her current home in Oakland, California, and historical retelling of the events of bo’s extraordinary life through interviews with bo and her collaborators, archival materials, and rare social movement ephemera. The Gentleman Bank Robber weaves together personal and political perspectives on 20th century social movement histories, including queer liberation in the 1960s; militant, underground activity with the George Jackson Brigade in the 1970s, a revolutionary prison abolitionist group; political prisoner support work in the 1980s, and prison activist work into the present day. bo brown is a model for how to lead a life of committed activism while maintaining a sense of humor and humanity.

Watch the Trailer

Music in trailer by Lisa Schonberg.

Gentleman Bank Robber Screenings

Hollywood Theatre
Spring 2018
Portland, Oregon

Northwest Film Forum
Sunday / February 18, 2018 / 7:30pm
Seattle, Washington
George Jackson Brigade members Ed Mead, Mark Cook, Janine Bertram in attendance

University of Milwaukee
Thursday / February 1, 2018 / 6:00pm
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Northwest Filmmakers Festival

Gentleman Bank Robber
Thursday / November 2, 2017 / 5:30pm
Portland, Oregon
Julie Perini in attendance


44th Northwest Filmmakers Festival focuses on social issues, misfits, and more
by Marc Mohan, The Oregonian, November 2, 2017

Oct. 23, 2017: Julie Perini & Northwest Filmmakers Festival Director Ben Popp were on TV!

If you would like to organize a screening or have other questions:


Support bo brown

In the summer of 2016, bo was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dimentia, a terminal neurodegenerative disease. As of October 2017, bo's community is raising funds to support her in-home medical care. Donate to the Bo Brown, Forever Activist, Forever Survivor fundraising campaign here.

The Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter rita bo brown
digital video, USA, 47 minutes, 2017

directed by & cinematography by Julie Perini
research & interviewing done with Lydia Bartholow & Erin McNamara
edited by Julie Perini
assistant editors: Lydia Bartholow, Erin McNamara, Erin Yanke & Anna Swanson
music by Marisa Anderson & Lisa Schonberg
archival research & production assistance by Riley King
graphic design by James Casey
type consultation: Briar Levit
Thank you: Jamie Dawson, Kat Enyeart, Lily-Rygh Glen, Ben Popp
Funded by a 2017 Oregon Media Arts Fellowship, an Oregon Arts Commission Career Opportunity Award, a Portland State University Faculty Enhancement Award,  and a community of Kickstarter backers.

We shot over 30 hours of oral-history style interviews with bo brown, her collaborators and community members. All of this media will be available at the Freedom Archives in San Francisco in 2018.