Paris Is Burning is a poignant documentary that immerses the viewer in the community of New York's minority drag queens, gay black and latino men who cross
dress as woman and iinvented the dance style of "voguing". Jennie
Livingston's Paris is Burning is a rather immersive experience that captures the
lifestyle of this small minority, focusing on their ambitions and dreams. These individuals face a horrendous amount scrutiny by society, feeling the pinch of sexual and economical oppression. The film doesn't do anything special from a narrative standpoint but it's smart enough to stay out of the way of its subjects, letting them speak for themselves. What I found most interesting about the film is the "Balls" which these individuals throw. While these events are certainly competitive, what I found astonishing is the sense of release it gives these individuals from the cruelity they face everyday in a society that doesn't understand them. The various interviewees describe these extravagant balls as their Oscars or World Series, which showcases just how important they are to them. It's a place where these homosexual miniorities can feel unified. Another interesting aspect of these Balls is the various competitions which take place. The most striking example of this is the "Realness" competition which is based off of who can most effectivly be chamelon-like in transforming into a straight person. One interviewee exclaims "it's basically going back to the closet", an effort for these individuals to mockingly give society what they want to see. Paris is Burning is definitely emotional at times, showing how these events give these people a sense of family, which many are severly lacking after being exiled by their own blood. Honestly I did feel that the film dragged a little bit, which I must admit is a bit disconcerning given the short 70 minute running time but Paris is Burning certainly fascinationg none-the-less.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.