PARIS IS BURNING
Paris is Burning (1991) depicts a New York fashion subculture. Shot in the late 1980s, the film examines how a community of Black and Latino gay and transgender New Yorkers build sustenance, creativity, and family. Exploring ballroom culture – and defining and re-defining words like “house,” “mother,” “shade” “voguing” and “Realness” – Paris is Burning draws a series of incisive character portraits. The movie writes a complex essay on class, race, identity, and the transformative powers of dance and performance.
In 2016 Paris is Burning was one of 25 films to be inducted in the Film Registry at the
Library of Congress, and was the Sundance Film Festival's 2015 Sundance Collection
screening. In 1991, Paris is Burning won a Sundance Grand Jury Prize, a Berlinale Teddy
Bear, and was on 10-Best- Film-of- the-Year lists of The Washington Post, The LA Times,
Time Magazine, and NPR. It had hugely successful theatrical releases in the US,
Australia, Austria, Germany, Holland, Japan, the UK, and elsewhere. 25 years after its
release, its influence can be felt in film, music, theater, cultural studies, and politics.
The Criterion Collection/Janus Films is the film's new North American distributor. To arrange a screening in the US or Canada, please email:
For rights elsewhere: firstname.lastname@example.org
“A politically astute, historically important document of our precarious times.”
The Black Film Review
“Houses of silk and gabardine are built. Houses of dream and fantasy. Houses that bear the names of their legendary founders…Houses rise and fall. Legends come and go. To pose is to reach for power while simultaneously holding real powerlessness at bay.”
“a beautiful piece of work—lively, intelligent, exploratory …. Everything about ‘Paris is Burning’ signifies so blatantly and so promiscuously that our formulations – our neatly paired theses and antitheses – multiply faster than we can keep track of them. What’s wonderful about the picture is that Livingston is smart enough not to reduce her subjects to the sum of their possible meanings…”
The New Yorker
“Zeroing in on an obscure and outré corner of a subculture, Livingston’s film ends up shedding an extraordinary light on American culture as a whole.”
Paris is Burning is streaming on the Criterion Channel and available on DVD and BluRay from the Criterion Collection. This 2K restoration is accompanied by extras including two hours of never-before-seen outtakes; a roundtable with Sol Pendavis and Freddie Pendavis (AKA Dr Sol Williams and Skylar King), and Jennie Livingston, moderated by filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris; essay by filmmaker Michelle Parkerson; reprint of essay with poet Essex Hemphill; interview with Gisele Xtravaganza, mother of the House of Xtravaganza; interview with filmmaker/film critic Jenni Olson, and more.
24 years after its Sundance premiere, Paris is Burning played at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in January, as a Sundance Collection screening, with a brand new digital print.