Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s "25 new faces of independent film 2006" and Out Magazine’s "100 OUT 2010," PJ Raval discovered film and video after working with photography and media installation art.
PJ recently completed BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, his latest feature documentary following the lives of three gay senior men (SXSW world premiere & “Buzz Screening,” Edinburgh International Film Festival). Slant Magazine hailed BEFORE YOU KNOW IT as a “Exemplary…a documentary that successfully puts human faces on wider issues… .” indieWIRE described the film as “…a crucial new addition to the LGBT doc canon.” BEFORE YOU KNOW IT recently won the Best Documentary Jury Award at the Reeling Chicago Gay and Lesbian Film Festival as well as the Audience Award at both the POLARI Austin LGBT Film Festival and Montreal’s image + nation 26 Film Festival. Slated for PBS broadcast in June of 2015, BEFORE YOU KNOW IT recently completed its US theatrical release in over 30 cities as well as a few international territories and can be found on iTunes and on other digital platforms through Sundance Artist Services.
PJ continues to collaborate on a collection of highly charged and not-safe-for-work videos with performer and “provocateur” Paul Soileau (a.k.a. CHRISTEENE) under the name “Three dollar Cinema.” Their work has screened at SXSW (2010 – 2013) and at various underground, above ground, and art venues internationally. Banned from YOUTUBE and FACEBOOK alike, their collaborative efforts are best summed up by the Hollywood Reporter as “…something you desperately wish you could un-see…” Their collaborative work was nominated for an Austin Critics Table Award in 2010, and in 2012 PJ and Paul were invited to the CentralTrak Artist Residency Program, University of Texas at Dallas, to create a new video series called “The Reverie and Randee Show” based off of stories from the Old Testament.
PJ’s previous film, TRINIDAD, 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 was broadcast on Showtime as well as on MTV’s LOGO network.
PJ’s short 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 Visionary 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.
Also an award-winning cinematographer, PJ’s work has been showcased at both Sundance and Cannes and has 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 of 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 the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and FOURPLAY SAN FRANCISCO was awarded Best Narrative Short at the 2011 NewFest Film Festival. PJ also shot HABIBI RASAK KHARBAN, a story of forbidden love and the first fiction feature set in Gaza in over fifteen 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). PJ shot the first film created for a chimpanzee audience, PRIMATE CINEMA: APES AS FAMILY, directed by Rachel Mayeri (Sundance 2013, Berlianle 2013). Most recently, PJ lensed Bryan Poyser’s highly anticipated feature LOVE & AIR SEX, currently in theaters (SXSW 2013); Variety praised PJ’s cinematography by writing, ”d.p. PJ Raval makes everything else look every bit as professional as a studio comedy, while capturing the flavor of Austin’s most popular bars, restaurants and hangouts.”