Paris is Burning

A chronicle of New York's drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.


“Director Jennie Livingston’s wildly entertaining, deeply humanitarian and fundamentally educational film, Paris is Burning, has been restored and digitally remastered by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with the Sundance Institute and Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, and though it’s nearly three decades old, it feels as vibrant and bracingly honest as it has always been.

“Livingston dives into the ball scene of 1980s New York with an anthropologist’s eye and a big beating heart. White block letters on black backgrounds announcing a new teacher or subject serve as blackboard lessons.

“The impossibly young African American and Latinx gay teens educate Livingston about the details of street life and ball life, while self-proclaimed ‘old-school’ queen Dorian Corey serves as the educator about the finer points of language and the deeper sociocultural meanings of drag.

“Corey speaks with directness about the class and racial structures that prevent queer people of color from achieving the kind of wealth that they emulate, and Livingston urgently pushes this message of class disparity and class performance, inserting shots of wealthy white New Yorkers and fashion magazines. It is called ‘voguing’ after all.” - The LA Times


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