The cult documentary Paris Is Burning, which documented the New York City ballroom scene of the late 1980s, is to be re-issued with an hour of previously unseen footage.
The new cut will be issued on Blu-ray on February 25th, 2020, to coincide with the movie’s 30th anniversary.
Jennie Livingston’s acclaimed movie first hit theater screens in August 1990. In 2016, the US Library of Congress chose it as one of the few movies deserving of preservation in the United States National Film Registry because of its cultural and historical significance.
Paris Is Burning documents the queer ballroom scene in New York in the late 1980s and followed the lives of several Latinx and African American ballroom devotees.
The movie is widely credited with bringing the ballroom scene and vogueing to worldwide attention. In recent years, the period has enjoyed a renewed interest following the success of the Ryan Murphy-produced show, Pose – a fictional re-working of the period.
Among those to feature in the documentary were Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija and Dorian Corey, along with their associated ‘houses’. As Pose fans will know, houses are composed of friends, or family surrogates, who take part in ballroom contests together and support one another.
Several of those featured have since died. The movie was made at a time when HIV and AIDS cut a swathe through LGBTI communities. One participant, Venus Xtravaganza, was murdered. The case remains unsolved.
Livington began shooting the movie while still a film student at New York University and continued shooting over seven years. The original movie ran for just an hour and 15 minutes and she shot a huge amount of footage that went unused.
She oversaw a digital remastering of the movie this summer. It enjoyed a limited US re-release in theaters during Pride month.
Besides the extended footage, the forthcoming Blu-ray release will include a filmed conversation between her and filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris, along with Paris Is Burning participants Sol Pendavis and Freddie Pendavis.
A 1991 episode of The Joan Rivers Show, featuring Livingston and several of the movie’s stars, will also be included.