8.1/10
5,890
35 user 23 critic

Paris Is Burning (1990)

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:

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16 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brooke Xtravaganza ...
(as Carmen and Brooke)
André Christian
Dorian Corey
Paris Duprée
Junior Labeija
Willi Ninja
Sandy Ninja
Kim Pendavis
Freddie Pendavis
Sol Pendavis
Avis Pendavis
Octavia St. Laurent ...
(as Octavia Saint Laurent)
Stevie Saint Laurent
Anji Xtravaganza ...
(as Angie Xtravaganza)
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Storyline

This is a documentary of 'drag nights' among New York's underclass. Queens are interviewed and observed preparing for and competing in many 'balls'. The people, the clothes, and the whole environment are outlandish. Written by Robbie Smith <robsmith@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Having a ball...wish you were here

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

|

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

August 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Children Are  »

Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$310,127 (USA) (11 August 1991)

Gross:

$3,779,620 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in October 1997. See more »

Quotes

Pepper LaBeija: This is white America. Any other nationality that is not of the white set, knows this and accepts this till the day they die. That is everybody's dream and ambition as a minority - to live and look as well as a white person. It is pictured as being in America. Every media you have; from TV to magazines, to movies, to films... I mean, the biggest thing that minority watches is what? "Dynasty" and "The Colbys". Umm, "All My Children" - the soap operas. Everybody has a million-dollar bracket. When...
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Connections

Referenced in RuPaul's Drag Race: Oh No She Betta Don't! (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Sundance
Written and Performed by Kitarô
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User Reviews

 
Defiance and Pathos
20 March 2000 | by (Honolulu, HI, USA) – See all my reviews

In the beginning of this film, one of the commentators says that he was told that he has two strikes against him: he is black and male. But in addition to that, he has a third strike: he's gay. "You're going to have to be stronger than you ever imagined," he is told. "Paris is Burning" is a documentary about gay black and Hispanic men who are tranvestites or transsexuals.

The miracle of "Paris is Burning" is that director Jennie Livingston takes a subject that could have very easily become a freak show and allows the people in it their humanity. We learn their views of homosexuality, men, women, their hopes, their disappointments, their dreams. Some of these dreams are so unattainable it's tragic. Many of the people are seriously in denial;

This is not a film for everyone. There are shots in this movie of nude transsexuals. If you have a problem with homosexuality, then this movie isn't for you. But if you do see this movie you'll realise "Paris is Burning" isn't really about men wearing women's clothes, it's about a group of people who are routinely marginalised and put down by society at large, and what they do to get a sense of community in their lives.

I've watched this movie four times since it was released in 1991, because it says so many things: it's a commentary about materialism in our culture, about gender roles, about rich and poor people, about the media and what it celebrates, about fame and adulation. "Paris is Burning" is one of the most humane, and one of the saddest, movies I've ever seen.


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