A FILM BY JENNIE LIVINGSTON
1990 - 78 MINUTES - USA - COLOUR - 1.37:1 - DCP - BLU RAY
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.
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.
From The Archives: NOW's 1991 cover story on Paris Is Burning. Before the doc became a cult classic, director Jennie Livingston and dancer Willi Ninja spoke to us about class, identity and the commercialization of ball culture - NOW
Paris Is Burning is an urgent reminder of the importance of queer spaces. The dispersion of queer people into a diaspora in the face of gentrification dilutes the ability to organize and ruptures our political power. - NOW
"For lots of gay and trans people, it’s a pretty big deal!” PARIS IS BURNING - CBC Radio Q
”The film influenced Ru Paul, Madonna, and many other performers and gave birth to a new language – descriptive words like ‘fierce’, ‘shady’ ‘yassss queen’ or to ‘work’ on a cute Instagram pic.” - What She Said Radio
”In the three decades since Paris Is Burning's initial release, so much has changed and yet so much hasn't” - National Post
”My intentions were to tell a story, to tell it well, and to have other people recognize the complexity, brilliance, usefulness and beauty of this world." - Toronto Star
“Nearly 30 Years On, ‘Paris’ Still Burns Bright” - POV Magazine
“Paris is Burning is a bracing portrait of these fighters and dreamers, of a resolute people fighting mainstream rejection by creating a world for themselves. A world that despite the vast imbalances of that era has survived, at least in part, to influence our mainstream culture today.” - Cinema Axis
“Paris Is Burning is a learning tool on several levels, including a lesson on tolerance for those who are still slow on the uptake twenty-eight years later.” - Wylie Writes
“Paris is Burning is definitely one of the ten best documentaries ever made” - Cultural Mining