Saturday, March 9, 2013

Paris Is Burning (1990)

WHO: Jennie Livingston directed this documentary about the New York City ball scene. Image above is of Octavia St. Laurent, one of the characters the film helps us get to know.

WHAT: Two years ago I attended an afternoon screening of an incredible film portrait of a subculture I knew absolutely nothing about. It was the Frameline festival's commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Paris Is Burning's commercial release in 1991, when it became one of the best-attended documentaries ever released to theatres.  Director Jennie Livingston was on hand for the event, and even showed one of her short films made since Paris Is Burning was completed. In short, it was an ideal way for a newcomer to be first exposed to a landmark film that I can't believe hasn't been inducted into the Library of Congress's National Film Registry yet. 

Or so I thought. Tonight's screening of the film, hosted by local drag celebrity Peaches Christ, promises to be an even more jubilant celebration of the film and its participants (most now deceased, sadly). If you've seen Paris is Burning you want to be there tonight. But if you haven't seen it yet you might want to go too. 

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight only at the Castro Theatre at 8:00 PM. Advance seats have all been sold, but there will be day-of-show tickets available for cash purchase when the box office opens at 2PM.

WHY: I believe this is the second time since beginning her career as a midnight movie presenter at the now-shuttered Bridge Theatre that Peaches Christ has picked a documentary feature to present to her loyal fans (the prior example being Madonna: Truth Or Dare in 2005), and also the second time she's presenting a feature-length film directed by a woman (after Doris Wishman's Double Agent 73 way back in 1999). 

HOW: 35mm print.

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