Turn up the lights and polish the runways children; The ballroom families of Paris Is Burning are once again, taking it to the runway, theatrical release style.
Thirty years after it’s initial release in theaters, the critically acclaimed and and revolutionary documentary by Jennie Livingston is getting a re-release into movie theaters all over America. With the re-release comes a brand spanking new trailer, featuring everything we loved about the original (including Cheryl Lynn’s signature “Got To Be Real” vocals). The new restoration shifts the story a bit, focusing on the true stars of the ballroom scene; everyone from the legendary Octavia St. Laurent, the high fashion darling Pepper La Beija, and the glamorous and pioneering trendsetters Angie Xtravaganza and Venus Xtravaganza. Telling these performers unique stories and celebrating their successes in the ballroom scene has always been one of the tentpoles of the storytelling of Paris Is Burning.
The brand new restoration opens initially in theaters for a two week run. Kicking off on June 14 in NY/July 5 in Los Angeles, followed by a national rollout. Close to thirty years after its initial release, Janus Films is bringing this landmark film back to mainstream theaters, in a new restoration that is supervised by director Jennie Livingston.
Paris Is Burning details the ball culture of the 1980’s through the eyes of the brilliantly talented and wise beyond their years performers and “house members”. Throughout the documentary, these performers serve as the narrators of their own individual stories, as well as giving us an up close look at the lives that they so gorgeously live without one apology.
With the national conversation that Pose has launched, the ballroom culture is hotter than ever right now. The restoration trailer for the Paris Is Burning re-release showcases such ballroom luminaries as Willie Ninja, Venus Xtravaganza, and Dorian Corey, all dearly departed, but still deeply felt, throughout both the documentary and the ballroom community, still to this day. The colorful members of the community in this documentary were blazing trails, setting trends and starting conversations, all of which are still felt and continue today. Whether it is on the main stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race (with constant mentions and references to the ball community) or at any gay bar in the country, you definitely don’t have to look far to hear a young queen telling someone that they are “throwing shade” or “reading” someone.
As RuPaul himself says, “herstory” is crucial, children. The members of this community have stories that deserve to be heard once again; as Pride month commences, hit the movie theater and listen to some of the most legendary storytellers our community has ever seen. Their stories are still so relatable, now more than ever.
Paris Is Burning is digitally remastered by the UCLA Television Archive in conjunction with the Sundance Institute as well as Outfest UCLA. The Preservation is funded by the Sundance Institute, Outfest UCLA and the Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation.
Paris Is Burning Stills Courtesy of BFI