Paris Is Burning

Director: Jennie Livingston
Year Released: 1990
Rating: 3.5

Affectionate portrait of (largely) African American drag queens living in New York City in the late '80s and their unique world of dress-up and play-acting: they developed their own language, their own codes of being and even, for Willi Ninja, perfected a new form of dance ("vogueing"). Important as not only a study of underground life in NY but also a reflection of Reagan-era politics - the drag queens are all inspired by the world of high fashion and high living, despite being poor outcasts, and they all seem to dream of stardom (if not a nice, cozy house with a loved one in the Catskills). It's wonderfully edited and to-the-point, if tragic: most (if not all) of these charming, dynamic individuals ended up succumbing to AIDS (since many had to resort to hustling for money).