Paris is Burning

Paris is Burning

93 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Black / African American, Dance, Discrimination, Documentary, Drag, Gay, Latino/a, Theater / Performance Art, Transgender
Programs: Documentaries, Transgender Film Focus

Expected Guests: director Jennie Livingston

Dip back into LGBT history with a retrospective screening of seminal documentary Paris is Burning. Between 1987 and 1989, director Jennie Livingston documented the lives of gay and trans performers, mostly black or Latino, who compete in New York City’s balls and dream of achieving celebrity status. Visually striking with an intensely saturated color palate and gorgeous film grain, Paris is Burning is a profound record of an inspiring moment in time and an underrepresented culture.

Livingston’s film shows that drag performance is far more complex than an exaggeration of gender—the subjects in this documentary rely on ball culture to deconstruct race, class, and homophobia as well. Through intimate interviews and winding monologues, we learn the real life experiences of a variety of performers. The subjects’ willingness to speak candidly and thoroughly about their identities, experiences, and goals helps to shed light on a burgeoning subculture from the late 80s that was largely ignored by the straight world and the white gay mainstream. Before Madonna, before Glee, there was Paris is Burning.

Preceded by
Who’s the Top?
Livingston's short, Who’s the Top?, a Frameline29 favorite, is an eccentric musical comedy focusing on the waning passion in Alixe and Gwen’s relationship. Is their sexual compatibility to blame for the lull in their relationship, or is that a weak excuse for a relationship that lacks in excitement? — ALEX CHOUSA

Co-presented by:

The Community Initiative


Superstar Satellite

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