Paris Is Burning (Blu-ray)
Having a ball… Wish you were here
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Blu-ray Disc Features:
- Rated: R
- Run Time: 1 hours, 16 minutes
- Video: Color
- Encoding: Region A
- Released: February 25, 2020
- Originally Released: 1990
- Label: Criterion Collection
- Note: New conversation between Livingston, ball community members Sol Pendavis and Freddie Pendavis, and filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris
- Over an hour of never-before-seen outtakes
- Audio commentary from 2005, featuring Livingston, ball community members Freddie Pendavis and Willi Ninja, and film editor Jonathan Oppenheim
- Episode of The Joan Rivers Show from 1991, featuring Livingston and ball community members Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, Freddie Pendavis, and Ninja
- English SDH subtitles
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
Performers, Cast and Crew:
|Starring||Dorian Corey & Willi Ninja|
|Performer:||Pepper Labeija, Venus Xtravaganza, Octavia St. Laurent, Anji Xtravaganza, Freddie Pendavis & Junior Labeija|
|Directed by||Jennie Livingston|
Memorable Quotes and Dialog:
"I remember my dad - he'd say you have three strikes against you in this world. Every black man has two - that they are black and they are male. But you're a black and you're a male and you're gay.... If you're gonna do this, you're gonna have to be stronger than you ever imagined."
"A ball to us is as close to reality as we're gonna get to all of that fame and fortune and stardom and spotlight."
"If everybody went to balls, and did less drugs, it would be a fun world, wouldn't it'"
- Dorian Corey
"When I grew up, you wanted to look like Marlene Dietrich, Betty Grable. Fortunately, I didn't know that I really wanted to look like Lena Horne. When I grew up... black stars were stigmatized. Nobody wanted to look like Lena Horne."
- Dorian Corey
"New York City is wrapped up in being Labeija."
- Pepper Labeija
"In real life, you can't get a job as an executive unless you have the educational background and the opportunity. Now the fact that you are not an executive is merely because of the social standing of life... Black people have a hard time getting anywhere. And those that do, are usually straight. In a ballroom, you can be anything you want."
- Dorian Corey
Rating: 3/4 -- Truly remarkable. Full Review
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Rating: A- -- All these years later, 'Pose' fans will enjoy tracing its characters (not to mention plots) back to their inspirations... Full Review
Paris Is Burning is a masterpiece that works as well as it does because its point of view is not that of someone instructing the audience like a tenured professor. Full Review
Rating: 8/10 -- Even better for last year's book release, if you did not get a chance to see this movie thirty years ago, do not miss it now. Full Review
It's Just Movies
...Absorbing, seductive....Scrupulously open and evenhanded...
Los Angeles Times
Rating: 5/5 -- Paris Is Burning preserves in cinematic amber a pre-'90s, pre-Giuliani New York City that looks and feels more hard and hostile, and yet seems more innocent. Full Review
Metro Weekly (Washington, DC)
Rating: 4/5 -- More than anything, Paris is Burning is a thoroughly entertaining performance film. Beneath the theatrical trappings, though, sits layer after layer of poverty and abuse. Livingston manages to navigate those dueling moods of celebration and depression. Full Review
An unblinking, behind-the-scenes story of the young men of Harlem who originated "voguing" and turned these stylized dance competitions into a glittering expression of fierce personal pride.
Documentary about the Harlem drag balls thrown by predominantly inner city black and Latino gay men in the mid-1980s. The film features footage of the actual "drag" pageants, as well as interviews with ball participants, who describe their backgrounds and dreams, and the intricacies of their rich and detailed dialect. A fascinating look at the complexities of this elaborate subculture.
- Appearing in the film were:
Andre Christian; Dorian Corey; Paris Dupree; Pepper Labeija;
Junior Labeija; Willi Ninja; Sandy Ninja; Freddie Pendavis;
Sol Pendavis; Avis Pendavis; Octavia Saint Laurent; Stevie Saint Laurent; Angie Xtravaganza; Bianca Xtravaganza; Brooke Xtravaganza; Carmen Xtravaganza; Danny Xtravaganza; David Xtravaganza; David Ian Xtravaganza; David the Father Xtravaganza; Venus Xtravaganza
And all of the legendary children and upcoming legends.
- Funding provided by:
The National Endowment for the Arts; Jerome Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts; New York Foundation for the Arts; Paul Robeson Fund; Edelman Fund; Art Matters Inc.; BBC Television
- Film was "In Memory of David Baer, Kevin Sutton, Lee Marks, and Richard Roland Livingston."
- Venus Xtravaganza was murdered not long after production ended in 1989.
- Dorian Corey, 56, died of AIDS on August 29, 1993. In a "New York Times" interview, he explained why he did the film, saying, "I didn't do it for the money. I did it for fun. Always have. You see I was in show business for years, so when my 15 minutes finally came up, it was gravy." In addition to performing regularly, Corey had his own clothing design business.
In the film, Corey said, "Everybody wants to leave something behind them, some impression, some mark upon the world. And then you think, you've left a mark on the world if you just get through it and a few people remember your name. Then you've left a mark. You don't have to bend the world. I think it's better just to enjoy it. Pay your dues and enjoy it. If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you."
- Pop icon Madonna launched voguing as a brief dance trend in 1990 with her hit record, "Vogue."
- Feature-film debut for director Jennie Livingston.
- Named Best Documentary of 1990 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Named Best Documentary of 1991 by the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, and the Boston Society of Film Critics. Received the Grand Jury Prize at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival.
- Livingston received the Open Palm Award from the first Independent Feature Project Gotham Awards in 1991. The prize consists of $10,000 worth of donated services from General Camera and TVC Labs to be used on her next project.
- Video version runs 76 minutes, while the theatrical version runs 71 minutes. Video features an epilogue that tells what has happened to some of the subjects after production stopped. A 58-minute version was screened at a New York City festival in 1990.
- Definitely not to be confused with "Is Paris Burning'", the 1966 French-American co-production about the liberation of France in World War II. Film starred Jean-Paul Belmondo, Charles Boyer, Leslie Caron, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Claude Dauphin, Alain Delon, Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Robert Stack, and Orson Welles. "Is Paris Burning'" was written by Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola from the Larry Collins-Dominique Lapierre book and was directed by Rene Clemens.
- Title is taken from one of the larger drag balls, also titled "Paris Is Burning" and hosted by Paris Dupree.
- Estimated budget $375,000.
- Filmed in Harlem, New York City. Filming began in 1987 and was completed in 1989. Color by DuArt. Shot in 16mm. Titles by Borden Elniff and opticals by Eastern Optical EFX.
- Screened at New York's New Festival of Gay and Lesbian Film (as 58-minute video), Los Angeles International Gay & Lesbian Film & Video Festival, Toronto Festival of Festivals, Margaret Mead Film Festival, Independent Feature Film Market in 1990. Screened at Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Biennial Exhibition and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, Deauville Film Festival, and Birmingham International Film & Television in 1991.
- Broadcast in a shorter version over the BBC television network on the program "Arena" in the UK April, 1990.
- Released in New York City at the Film Forum March 13, 1991, where it ran for a record-breaking 17 weeks. Benefit premiere in Los Angeles for AIDS Project August 7, 1991. Released in USA August 9, 1991. Released on video September 23, 1992.
- In its initial theatrical release, the film had no MPAA rating. In January of 1992, it was given an "R" rating.
- Reviewed in New York Times March 13, 1991, and in Los Angeles Times August 9, 1991.
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