This is a documentary of ‘drag nights’ among New York’s underclass. Queens are interviewed and observed preparing for and competing in many ‘balls’. The people, the clothes, and the whole environment are outlandish.
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Rewatched it the day after attending NYC's first DragCon: a commercialized affair seemingly serving to demarginalize drag queens, their queer fans and other nonbinary people with a flair for performing arts and fashion. Interesting juxtaposition.
The most tragic thing: only one person of the cast lived to see the film's 25th anniversary. Paris is burning, and the children are burning with it. Can't they just be?
Livingston's documentary was a cultural and critical sensation on release in '90 capitalizing on vogue and drag coming into the mainstream by zeroing in on gay black culture and the 'ballroom' competitions. ver 25 years later it stands as a highly influential document of its times that foreshadowed the continuing mainstreaming of its subject matter into popular culture. Poignant, powerful and somewhat heartbreaking
Fantastic. I loved everything about this film from the beautiful rough and ready 16mm film all shot in available light to the diverse and utterly unashamed characters. Sits alongside highly memorable films like Benjamin Smoke. 4.5 stars
A fun ride, but also a brutal/bitter one. More than a "fabulous" doc on NYC ball culture, the film provides a brave social commentary on marginalized Black, Latino, gay and transgender communities during the 80's. It depicts exemplarily the strong sense of community between these groups, neglected by their families and forced to survive in a society that does not understand them. A real achievement in Queer Cinema.
A rather tragic view of lives trapped in rarefied opportunities to step-out amid a closed societal atmosphere of institutional protocol and vernacular. Beyond the outre, it's not an uncommon story for many of any race or sexuality, ill-afforded by situation and ambition - or lack of. A good example of diegetic documentary casting a passive eye cast on the seemingly outlandish revealing the human fragility underneath.