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Brooklynite Jennie Livingston introduces a special 24th anniversary screening of her Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary PARIS IS BURNING. This intimate and moving portrait of the Harlem drag balls of the 1980s—held between rival “houses”, which served at once as intentional families, social groups, and performance teams—illuminated a world of sustenance and joy that one group of New Yorkers created in the face of racism, poverty, and homophobia. The film won wide acclaim beyond Sundance, spurred both controversy and progress, and remains a unique and powerful document of its time that is still an organizing tool for gay and trans youth; a focus of scholarship on issues of race, class, and gender; and a way for young ball participants to meet their ancestors.
The singer and producer JD SAMSON starts off the night with a celebratory live band set. Samson (who was once Jennie Livingston’s intern), a founding member of the electro-feminist-punk project Le Tigre, is both an outspoken and articulate champion of social causes and a riveting performer. The music she made with Le Tigre and subsequently MEN has always produced a visceral thrill; playing now under just her own name, the party she brings is no less electrifying.