Running time 1h 18m | Directed by Jennie Livingston | USA | Documentary
Where does voguing come from, and what, exactly, is throwing shade? This landmark documentary provides a vibrant snapshot of the 1980s through the eyes of New York City’s African American and Latinx Harlem drag ball scene. Made over seven years, Paris Is Burning offers an intimate portrait of rival fashion “houses,” from fierce contests for trophies, to house mothers offering sustenance in a world rampant with homophobia and transphobia, racism, AIDS, and poverty. Featuring legendary voguers, drag queens, and trans women—including Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, and Venus Xtravaganza — Paris Is Burning brings it, celebrating the joy of movement, the force of eloquence, and the draw of community. (c) Janus Films
Digitally remastered by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with Sundance Institute and Outfest UCLA Legacy Project. Preservation funded by Sundance Institute, Outfest and the Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation.
What I saw was a successful attempt by the outsiders to dramatize how success and status in the world often depend on props you can buy, or steal, almost anywhere — assuming you have the style to know how to use them.
Roger Ebert | Chicago Sun-Times | Full review (1991)
… passionately empathetic….most passionately empathetic
Owen Gleiberman | Entertainment Weekly | Full review (1991)