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Iconic drag doc Paris is Burning added to Congress film archives

Nick Duffy December 15, 2016
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Paris is Burning

The documentary Paris is Burning is now on Netflix (Paris is Burning)

Anti-LGBT Republican lawmakers will have some fantastic reference material from now on – as iconic drag documentary Paris is Burning is being preserved by the Library of Congress.

1990 culture-defining documentary Paris Is Burning shed light on the underground world of drag, tracking the NYC ball culture of the 1980s.

The documentary tackled problems related to racism, homophobia, AIDS and poverty, and introduced the world to concepts from ‘voguing’ to gay lingo like ‘realness’ and ‘shade’.

It was announced this week that the film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Every year, the body selects 25 films that are considered “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” for preservation, considered a high honour.

The listing for Paris is Burning explains:

“In a 2015 article in The Guardian, Ashley Clark noted, ‘Few documentaries can claim to have sparked as much discussion and controversy as Jennie Livingston’s debut ‘Paris is Burning,’ the vibrant time capsule of New York’s ballroom subculture in the ‘80s.’

“The film explores the complex subculture of fashion shows and vogue dance competitions among black and Hispanic gay men, drag queens and transgender women in Manhattan.

“It shifts among ballroom contests and shows and interviews with contestants, who belong to different ‘houses’ that are like families to them, sharing their views on wealth, notions of beauty, racism and gender orientation.”

Paris is Burning joins other influential films like The Lion King, Thelma & Louise and Funny Girl on this year’s intake.

There are now 700 films in the collection, which is housed in the Library of Congress, the federal cultural institution that serves as the research arm of Congress.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said: “Motion pictures document our history and culture and serve as a mirror of our collective experiences.

“The National Film Registry embraces the richness and diversity of film as an art form and celebrates the people who create the magic of cinema.”

Related topics: Congress, documentary, drag, Film Reviews, Gay, LGBT, Paris is Burning

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