Anime Expo is rolling out this holiday weekend, and among the big debuts: Cosplay Universe, a documentary that explores the evolution and rise of the global phenomenon known as Cosplay.

The film features such notable cosplayers as Yaya Han, Kamui Cosplay, Shema and Juan of Mexican Cosplay Team TWIIN Cosplay, World Cosplay Summit Organizer and academic Ed Hoff, Lauren of Castle Corsetry, Cynthia Tyler, Thomas De Petrillo and Qi Ma.

And also comments by notable pundits, including one of the last interviews with Stan Lee and…possibly even The Beat.

The film will have its world premiere July 3rd at 12:30 at Anime Expo. Here’s the trailer:

The film will be theatrically released this summer via Abramorama. Tickets and theater information are now available on the film’s website.

While I don’t recall exactly what I said in the documentary, I’m sure it was something about how I was born too soon, and it was always my dream to dress up and march around at conventions. Cosplay is an amazing exploration of identity and craft – with the art of costuming having risen to amazing heights and created a powerful community.

Cosplay Universe will cover all that, including the tense showdown between the Italian and Mexican teams at the World Cosplay Summit – as well as the technical marvel of the 9 foot Hulkbuster costume.

More info and images from the movie:

Co-Directed by Jonathan McHugh and Jordan Rennert, the film was shot over six years – pre-pandemic – at conventions around the U.S. including Anime Expo, San Diego’s Comic-Con International, Atlanta’s Dragon Con, Stan Lee’s last L.A. Comic Con and the World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya, Japan. The documentary dives deep into the world of Cosplay and taps into the psychology behind this art of self-expression, demonstrating how Cosplayers can transform and expand their confidence and perceptions of themselves. In the film, Cosplay is seen as a supportive avenue for gender exploration, as well as a welcoming community for all, including neurodivergent and disabled people.

“While those outside the Cosplay community may view Cosplay as “playing dress-up,” Cosplay has become so much more than that,” shares co-director Jonathan McHugh. “It encourages self expression in a uniquely inspiring way. In addition, it allows people to have a creative avenue to discover parts of their identity they may have been unaware of before.”

“By Cosplaying at conventions and on social media, the artform allows people to have remarkable transformational experiences,” adds co-director Jordan Rennert. “We made this film as a tool for Cosplayers to help their friends and family understand what their love and this art form is all about.”

“Cosplay Universe” was directed by Jonathan McHugh and Jordan Rennert, produced by Patrick Meaney and Jonathan Platt. McHugh is an independent filmmaker best known for his work on projects about some of music’s biggest stars including Janis Joplin’s highly regarded documentary, “Janis: Little Girl Blue,” Lionsgate‘s “Snoop Dogg‘s Hood Of Horror and Discovery’s “Battle Ground Earth” with Ludacris & Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee.

Rennert and Meaney are acclaimed for their work in the comic book documentary space, where they have covered legendary subjects such as Grant Morrison (“Talking With Gods”), Neil Gaiman (“Dream Dangerously”), and the origin story of “Chris Claremont’s X-Men.” They have received numerous awards for their work over the years in the comic community, including an acknowledgement for Best Documentary at the Comic-Con International Film Festival for “She Makes Comics.” They are also known for their indie films “House of Demons” and the musical romance “The Brink Of.”