The documentary that Ziploc-sealed New York’s ball culture of the late 1980s and gave birth to generations of queens who read, vogue and throw shade, Paris Is Burning, is one of five films selected by the Library of Congress as worthy of preservation in the National Film Registry.
Ensuring that a film lives on forever, ‘preservation’ entails inclusion in the library’s audio-visual vault in Culpeper, Virigina. Only films with cultural, historic or artistic importance are chosen, and this year’s selections bring the total number of registered films (since the registry began in 1989) to 700.
A film must be at least a decade old to be considered for inclusion. Other films to receive the honor this year include Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), The Breakfast Club (1985), Thelma and Louise (1991) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). See a complete list of registered films here.
Jennie Livingston’s 1990 film famously documented a beloved cast of queer New Yorkers that included Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, Angie Xtravaganza and Willi Ninja. Without its integral chronicling of the scene, it’s possible we wouldn’t have many elements of modern queer culture—things like RuPaul’s Drag Race or present-day “house” culture. (And god knows a huge chunk of queer lingo comes from the film’s on-the-fly interviews.)
To honor the film’s prestigious inclusion, we’ve selected 10 of our favorite Paris Is Burning GIFs. Consider them a reminder to re-watch one of modern film’s best documentaries, and maybe even share them on your social media. Pepper, Dorian, Angie and Willi would have loved that.
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