Twenty-four years ago, director Jennie Livingston screened her documentary, Paris Is Burning at the Sundance Film Festival. Livingston and her award-winning film returned to the fest for a special screening this year and tomorrow, a new, digitally restored print will screen at Outfest Fusion in Los Angeles. Outfest Fusion celebrates LGBT people of color in film.
Paris Is Burning celebrates Harlem drag balls, where rival fashion houses compete for trophies and cash prizes in categories like "face", "femme queen realness" and "voguing". The film depicts an African American and Latino gay and transgender subculture, examining the intersections of race, class, and gender in an image-conscious, wealth-obsessed society. Watch a clip from the film and read our exclusive interview with director Jennie Livingston to learn more about the behind the scenes stories surrounding her groundbreaking film.
Another important film within the LGBT people of color community is The Crying Game. The film was nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing and won for Best Screenplay. The Crying Game is about an unlikely friendship that develops between a kidnapped British soldier and his captor Fergus, an IRA volunteer. When the hostage-taking ends up going horribly wrong, the volunteer escapes and heads to London, where he seeks out and begins dating the soldier's lover, a hairdresser named Dil, who knows nothing about Fergus' IRA background. But there are some things about Dil that Fergus doesn't know either.
This 'secret' became part of the lure getting audiences to see the film. Even when the 'secret' was revealed, audiences still flocked to the theaters because the haunting story was so thoughtfully told. The film's critical and commercial success was a triumphant example for more LGBT stories to exist on screen in Hollywood.
Celebrating its 12th year, Outfest Fusion is the only multicultural LGBT film festival of its kind, running March 13-14 at the venerable Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. View the full schedule and purchase tickets here.
For more information on Jennie Livingston and her work, please visit her website.