Monday, January 25, 2010


Long before one of New Zealand's favourite daughters Ladyhawke wrote a song called Paris Is Burning, a film maker called Jennie Livingston made one of the finest documentaries of the modern era. Last night our good friend Stefan Knight stayed and brought that doco, Paris Is Burning (1990), with him. It is a documentary about the 'ball" scene in New York in the 1980s that became famous when Malcolm MacLaren released Deep In Vogue and then in 1989 when Madonna released the song Vogue. Aside from being a world-class piece of documentary film making it is an incredible insight into the world of "houses," "children," and the vibrant dance/fashion/lifestyle community of New York's African American gay scene of the time.

The film is set to an ass-wiggling soundtrack that features some of the finest eighties black disco you will hear - even if MFSB's Love Is The Message does dominate a tad too much. Shot on what appears to be reversal film stock, this film does what photography does at it's very best, captures a moment in time, and it deals with issues that the subjects themselves are living and breathing; racism, homophobia, AIDS, gender and poverty. These people are up against the world yet the overall tone is one of sheer emotion and celebration. Captivating and priceless...