Gay Themed Movies » 1990 » Paris Is Burning (1990)

PIBParis Is Burning (1990)


Director: Jennie Livingston
Genre: Documentary
Country: USA
Year: 1990


Stars: Carmen and Brooke, André Christian and Dorian Corey


This is a documentary of ‘drag nights’ among New York’s underclass. Queens are interviewed and observed preparing for and competing in many ‘balls’…



Paris-Is-Burning-1990-001Kada su u pitanju Transeksualci, Tranvestiti i Trans populacija ostajem nemoćan da bilo šta tu objasnim. Jedva da poznajem razliku između tih termina. Naprosto potpuno strani svijet za mene. O tome sam najviše naučio gledajući filmove Pedra Almodovara. Ovaj dokumentarni film sam kao i mnoge druge ovdije našao surfajući na netu. Isprva sam se smijao kao lud, a poslije mi se mješao osjećaj gađenja i čuđenja. Kako je film odmicao sa zanimanjem sam pratio priče tranvestita iz različitih društvenih slojeva. Biti drag queen je za većinu ljudi prikazanih u ovom filmu smisao života. Ali za neke je to samo način ispoljavanja svoje seksualne individualnosti. Film nam opisuje transgender scenu New Yorka 1990. godine koji nastupaju na “balls compettition” za šta ne umijem da nađem adekvatan prevod. Naprosto nekako izraz imati muda mi neide uz ova stvorenja na filmu. Ono što definitivno stoji da bi na našim prostrima bukavalno trebalo imati muda i prikazati se u takvim queen izdanjima kakvih možete vidjeti u ovom dokumentarcu.

paris-is-burning-stillEnglish: (from wikipedia)
Paris Is Burning is a 1990 documentary film directed by Jennie Livingston. Filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s, it chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the poor, African American and Latino gay and transgendered community involved in it. Many consider Paris Is Burning to be an invaluable documentary of the end of the “Golden Age” of New York City drag balls, as well as a thoughtful exploration of race, class, and gender in America.

The film explores the elaborately-structured Ball competitions in which contestants, adhering to a very specific category or theme, must “walk” (much like a fashion model’s runway) and subsequently be judged on criteria including the “realness” of their drag, the beauty of their clothing and their dancing ability.

20110805173451_paris-is-burningMost of the film alternates between footage of balls and interviews with prominent members of the scene, including Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, Anji Xtravaganza, and Willi Ninja. Many of the contestants vying for trophies are representatives of “Houses” (in the fashion sense, such as “House of Chanel”) that serve as intentional families, social groups, and performance teams. Houses and ball contestants who consistently won in their walks eventually earned a “legendary” status.

paris-is-burning-posterJennie Livingston, who never went to film school and who spent 7 years making Paris Is Burning, concentrated on interviews with key figures in the ball world, many of whom contribute monologues that shed light on the ball culture as well as on their own personalities. In the film, titles such as “house,” “mother,” and “reading” emphasize how the subculture the film depicts has taken words from the straight and white worlds, and imbued them with alternate meanings, just as the “houses” serve as surrogate families for young ball-walkers whose sexual orientations have sometimes made acceptance and love within their own families hard to come by.

In explaining the rules of the Balls (and the slang and terminology that goes along with them) the film also shines light on the societal hardships of Ball community members (such as racism, homophobia and poverty) and how these obstacles influence the participants (some are sex workers, some shoplift clothing to wear in the Balls, some were thrown out of their homes by homophobic parents, some are saving money for sex reassignment surgery). It follows several participants through candid one-on-one interviews (both in and out of the Balls) to give insight into their lives and struggles, and ultimately the strength, pride, and humor they maintain to survive in a “rich, white world.”

Drag is presented as a complex performance of gender, class and race, in which one can express one’s identity, desires and aspirations along many dimensions (see Drag). The African American and Latino community depicted in the film includes a diverse range of identities and gender presentations, from gay men to butch queens to transsexual women.

The film also documents the origins of “voguing”, a dance style in which competing ball-walkers freeze and “pose” in glamorous positions (as if being photographed for the cover of Vogue). Pop star Madonna would, one year before Paris Is Burning was completed, bring the phenomenon to the mainstream with her number one song “Vogue”.
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