Paris is Burning
Directed by Jennie Livingston
(1991; 71 minutes; USA; English)
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.
Cassandro, the Exotico!
Directed by Marie Losier
(2018; 73 minutes; France; English)
This stirring feature portrait of lucha libre star Cassandro in his waning years in the ring is less a swan song than a meteor shower rendered in Technicolor. Famed as much for his flamboyant drag and sky-high pompadour as for his show-stopping kicks and flips, Cassandro’s trailblazing ascent as one the industry’s first openly gay wrestlers has resonated internationally for a quarter century.
Competition: Several Conversations About A Very Tall Girl
Directed by Bogdan Theodor Olteanu
(2018; 70 min; Romania; Color; Romanian with English Subtitles)
Two girls start talking about a third one, a former lover for both. They grow closer, but the gap between them widens as one is looking for answers and love while safely closeted. What aren’t lesbians supposed to do in public? What happens when leaving the apartment equals coming out? How do you fight a fear you cannot name? A try-out for love contained within four walls and loads of prejudices
Directed by Marlon Riggs
(1989; 55 minutes; USA; English)
Thirty years after its debut, Marlon Riggs’s film essay is considered a classic. It was one of the first films to give voice to black gay men, presenting their perspectives on the racism, homophobia, and marginalization they experienced. Tongues Untied broke new artistic ground by mixing dynamic poetry (by Essex Hemphill and other artists), music, and performance, along with Riggs’s autobiographical revelations. The film was celebrated for its authentic representation of style and culture, as well its fierce response to oppression.
Competition: SIKSA. Stabat Mater Dolorosa
Directed by Piotr Macha, SIKSA
(2018; 61 min; Poland; Polish with English Subtitles; Digital)
Musical based on SIKSA's "Stabat Mater Dolorosa" is a performative dream of making a movie come true, where both the dream and the movie are like chewing gum that has been tasteless for too long. A nostalgic invitation to a dancing story about a girl returning to her childhood, when she dressed up as different women using her mother's wardrobe, and all the roles she played were to please herself.
Competition: Secret Music
Directed by Daniel Beliavsky
(2018; 80 min; USA; English; Color; Digital)
Secret Music follows Pulitzer prize winning American composer David Del Tredici (b. 1937) through his transformative and uninhibited commitment to writing what he calls “gay music,” a repertoire that celebrates the joys and honors the struggles of his life as a gay man. In his music, Del Tredici courageously and provocatively embraces his sexuality while confronting the fears and concerns shared by gay men of his generation--these include violence, marginalization, loneliness, and the need to be heard above the din of the normative. The film explores the challenging and urgent questions that emerge where biography, social history, and music intersect.
Directed by Greta Schiller & Robert Rosenberg
(1984; 87 minutes; USA; English)
In 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City's Greenwich Village, where the patrons decided to fight back – leading to three nights of rioting by the city's gay community. Marking the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement, Before Stonewall examines the dramatic story of the sometimes horrifying public and private existences experienced by gay and lesbian Americans since the 1920s. Revealing and often humorous, this restored acclaimed documentary celebrates the courage of those who led their lives with dignity despite widespread social discrimination, fear, and prejudice.
Directed by Abel Ferrara
(2014; 84 minutes; France, Belgium, Italy; English, Italian, and French in English Subtitles)
In its first U.S. release Abel Ferrara’s (Bad Lieutenant; King of New York) provocative narrative feature chronicles Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini’s (Willem Dafoe) final hours leading up to his brutal murder on an Ostia beach in 1975. When the filmmaker transposed the Marquis de Sade’s Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom from an eighteenth century German castle to 1944 Fascist Italy, Pasolini faced resistance from the public, politicians, and press. Ferrara’s Pasolini focuses on the filmmaker’s search for new material following the release of Salò.
Directed by Jonathan Caouette
(2004; 88 minutes; USA; English)
Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother -- a mixture of snapshots, Super-8 film, answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, and more - culled from nineteen years of his life.
Directed by Robert Vincent O'Neill
(1984; 94 minutes; USA; English)
15 year-old Molly is the best in her class in high school. Nobody suspects that the model pupil earns her money at night: as prostitute "Angel" on Sunset Blvd. The well-organized separation of her two lives is shattered when two of her friends are slain by a necrophile serial killer. She's the only eye witness and becomes a target herself. The investigating Detective Andrews helps her, not only to survive, but also to query why she keeps on humiliating herself and to stop it.
Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You
Directed by Harrod Blank
(2019; 93 minutes; USA; English)
Renown art car artist Harrod Blank's camera-covered van breaks down near Albuquerque, NM. The only mechanic capable of fixing it is local drag racer, and machining savant, Russell “Rusty” Tidenberg. Rusty recently began to transition by getting breasts. While Rusty works, Harrod learns that Rusty's boss (father) cut his pay, his biker friends rejected him, and women won't date him now. Struck by his story, Harrod films Rusty for eight years. Other gender-non-binary art car artists that Harrod meets shed further light on gender identity in America. The film follows Rusty on this difficult journey of embracing and exhibiting both genders, while still hoping for acceptance, and love.