Iconic drag documentary Paris Is Burning returning to theaters
Nearly 28 years after the film’s Aug. 9, 1991 release, director Jennie Livingston has supervised a digital restoration of the original project, which follows a vibrant group of Latinx and African American New Yorkers as they navigate the drag and ball scenes of 1980s Manhattan.
Since its 1990 debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, Paris Is Burning has become a staple of queer cinema, predating and setting the stage for popular mainstream programs like Pose and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The film chronicles its subjects lives across seven years, zeroing in on their community of fashion houses — populated by vogue icons, drag queens, and trans women including Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, and Venus Xtravaganza — as they compete on self-made stages throughout New York while grappling with transphobia, homophobia, racism, and poverty during the AIDS crisis.
Paris Is Burning’s restoration cut (remastered by the UCLA Television Archive in conjunction with the Sundance Institute and Outfest UCLA) returns to theaters in New York City on June 14 for a special two-week run, with a nationwide rollout to follow.