6.8/10
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7 user 8 critic

Tongues Untied (1989)

Not Rated | | Documentary | July 1989 (USA)
A documentary about the experiences of black homosexual men living in the United States of America.

Director:

Marlon Riggs

Writers:

Joseph Beam (Writer), Chris Harris (Writer) (as Craig Harris) | 6 more credits »
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4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Marlon Riggs ... Self
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Michael Bell ... Self
Kerrigan Black Kerrigan Black ... Self
Blackberri Blackberri ... Self
Djola Bernard Branner Djola Bernard Branner ... Self (as Bernard Branner)
Ben Callet Ben Callet ... Self
Gerald Davis Gerald Davis ... Self
Kenneth R. Dixson Kenneth R. Dixson ... Self
Larry Duckette Larry Duckette ... Self
Gideon Ferebee Gideon Ferebee ... Self
Brian Freeman Brian Freeman ... Self
Gene Garth Gene Garth ... Self
Essex Hemphill Essex Hemphill ... Self
A.J. Honey A.J. Honey ... Self
Paul Horrey Paul Horrey ... Self
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Storyline

Marlon Riggs, with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill reciting his poetry, Riggs telling the story of his growing up, scenes of men in social intercourse and dance, and various comic riffs, including a visit to the "Institute of Snap!thology," where men take lessons in how to snap their fingers: the sling snap, the point snap, the diva snap. The film closes with obituaries for victims of AIDS and archival footage of the civil rights movement placed next to footage of Black men marching in a gay pride parade. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

Marlon Riggs: B.G.A. Black Gay Activist. 30-ish, well-read, sensitive, pro-feminist, seeks same for envelope licking, flyer distribution, banner assembly, demonstration companion, dialogical theorizing, good times and hot safe sex. I do not want to wed the movement, do you? End the silence, baby. We could make a serious revolution together.
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Connections

Spoofed in Saturday Night Live: Tom Arnold/Neil Young (1992) See more »

User Reviews

 
'I like the feeling of words doing as they want to do and as they have to do' - Gertrude Stein
14 July 2015 | by gradyharpSee all my reviews

Documentaries, well timed, make a difference. Especially when they are of the quality of this 1989-91 documentary about black men loving black men. TONGUES UNTIED was written and directed and narrated by Marton Riggs who with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill reciting his poetry, Riggs telling the story of his growing up, scenes of men in social intercourse and dance, and various comic riffs, including a visit to the "Institute of Snap!thology," where men take lessons in how to snap their fingers: the sling snap, the point snap, the diva snap. The film closes with obituaries for victims of AIDS and archival footage of the civil rights movement placed next to footage of Black men marching in a gay pride parade.

The film is a lyrical exploration of black gay identity in the United States. Made during a historical period marked by the onset of the AIDS crisis, the works navigate desire, love, loss, and mourning to engage and question sexual and political repression, expression, and deviation.

Riggs's stories are fierce examples of homophobia and racism: the man refused entry to a gay bar because of his color; the college student left bleeding on the sidewalk after a gay-bashing; the loneliness and isolation of the drag queen. The stories also affirm the black gay male experience: protest marches, smoky bars, snap divas, humorous musicology, and vogue dancing. It is as timely today as it was in 1991 when it was aired on PBS, setting off a wild debate about the National Endowment for the Arts funding for art with nudity, gay themes, and pointed political commentary. Impressive and important.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

July 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tongues Untied: Black Men Loving Black Men See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Signifyin' Works See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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