Upstairs Inferno

DIRECTOR: Robert L. Camina

Bay Area Premiere

Expected to attend: Director Robert L. Camina, Producer Gary Gansle

A forty-year-old mass-murder-mystery is at the center of this captivating and thoughtful documentary from filmmaker Robert L. Camina. In 1973, a devastating fire consumed the UpStairs Lounge, a New Orleans gay bar and occasional church. Thirty-two people died. Despite a conspicuous can of discarded lighter fluid at the scene, law enforcement officials turned away from evidence of foul play. Meanwhile, the community at large chose to ignore what was clearly a hate crime. No one was ever prosecuted, and the crime lives on as a tragic chapter in New Orleans history.

Camina combines emotional interviews with survivors—some of whom have never spoken out before—with intense archival footage to capture a very specific time and place for LGBT people. While the horrible crime helped to unite the New Orleans gay community, the bigoted and uncomfortable reaction of the straight world was a disturbing reminder of what it meant to be out in the South in 1973. Narrated by New York Times best-selling author Christopher Rice, this festival audience award–winning film is a mesmerizing mix of crime drama and human connections that brilliantly captures the heartbreaking feelings of unconditional love and overwhelming loss. An unsettling snapshot of what was, until the early hours of June 12, 2016, considered the largest mass murder targeting gays in American history, Upstairs Inferno gets inside the hearts and minds of a handful of vibrant people who are connected by tragedy and compassion.

— Brendan Peterson

This film contains graphic images that may be disturbing to some viewers.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D324

Co-presented by:
The GLBT Historical Society
Level Ground

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