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Tongues Untied and Paris Is Burning August 1991: film historian and producer Jenni Olson remembers two landmark documentaries on the black gay experience. (Telling our stories).

Released theatrically in August of 1991, Jennie Livingston's groundbreaking exploration of the Harlem House Ball circuit, Paris Is Burning, made visible a gay black and Latino subculture that was swiftly appropriated by the mainstream. More important, Paris Is Burning made gay men of color visible to themselves on the big screen, and the film served as a vitally important conduit of culture.

Stepping into the limelight at roughly the same time was Marlon Riggs's powerful personal documentary on black gay identity, Tongues Untied. Vito Russo, writing in The Advocate, celebrated the video as "a brilliant, innovative work of art that delivers a knockout political punch." Tongues Untied is an unparalleled example of personal, experimental documentary filmmaking and is as inspiring today as it was then.

Olson is a director, producer, and the editor of the Ultimate Guide to Lesbian & Gay Film and Video.
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Author:Olson, Jenni
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Nov 12, 2002
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