Paris is Burning is a documentary film chronicling the New York City drag scene during the 1980s. The film features interviews and cutaways of New York City drag queens as they discuss and prepare for the over the top glamour of the many balls and vogue events.
It’s telling that in any history lesson on the rising cold war tensions of the late 40’s and 1950’s, McCarthyism is strictly defined as accusations of communist sympathies. What has got lost in the history books in the intervening years is a crucial part of American LGBT history, that PBS documentary The Lavender Scare aims to bring back into the national conversation – and on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, this damning, widespread saga of prejudice can now be seen as an equally pivotal step towards equal rights.
Filmmaker Wim Wenders once famously said, “The camera is a weapon against the tragedy of things, against their disappearing.” By virtue of association, filmmaking can be seen as an act of preservation. All throughout This Spring (Au printemps tu verras), there is a constant reference to the passing of time, the importance of memories and the importance of remembering.
We all are aware of the phrase “Patient Zero”, but the man who would be identified under this damning codename has become increasingly forgotten over time. Named in journalist Randy Shilts’ influential non fiction tome And the Band Played On, which finally brought the AIDS conversation into the mainstream several years after its first reported outbreak, a French-Canadian flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas was widely believed to be the first person who brought the disease to the USA and around the world.
A story that comes, quite literally, from one of the farthest corners of the globe, Leitis in Waiting is a surprising and thought-provoking documentary from co-directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson. Surrounded by vast oceans, coral cliffs, and lush rainforest, the Leiti community has lived peacefully for centuries in the small island kingdom of Tonga. Leiti (or fakaleiti) is a local term used to describe individuals who are born male, but behave as females.
The film is told through the eyes of Pepsi, a transsexual Muslim from the Philippines. Pepsi was previously a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamic political group known for their hardline separatist tactics and an unwavering conservative stance regarding homosexuality and transsexuality. As the political climate worsened, she was forced to flee her homeland.