Jennie LivingstonUSA71 minutes1990ColourEnglish
Chronicling the world of fierce performance and competition at Harlem drag balls during the 1980s, Jennie Livingston's Paris Is Burning is a groundbreaking exploration of race, class, gender, and sexuality. The documentary follows the lives of Dorian Corey, Will Ninja, Sol, Freddie and Kim Pedavis, Octavia St. Laurent, Angie and Venus Xtravaganza, and Pepper LaBeija as they perform and tell their respective stories. Candid interviews with each of the performers are interspersed with images of extravagant costumes, lavishly decorated sets, elaborate voguing, and impassioned off-stage rivalries and onstage face-offs. Beyond the spectacle and pageantry of the drag balls, Paris is Burning provides an intimate look into the very real lives of a community struggling to survive; queer and trans people of colour dealing with loss and pain, but always thinking of their hopes and dreams for the future.
"Everybody who's young has a hope and a dream. And I don't think that it's been any different in the history of the world." –Eileen Ford
Digitally remastered version courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with Sundance Institute and the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project.