alex d’s review published on Letterboxd:
outstanding, transcendent documentary. this documentary, in less than 80 minutes, will make you laugh, cry, learn, and feel. there's more life and energy in Paris Is Burning than you'll see in any other documentary or narrative film.
on its face, you might suspect that Paris is Burning is a snapshot of a very specific group of people, in a very specific place on earth, during a very specific place in time. and you'd be right -- the film is a marvel in its specificity -- but it's also a sweeping declaration and demonstration for community and family. it's THE argument for why marginalized groups need their own spaces. when a society refuses to let a portion of its population into its culture, those people will create their own culture. and while Paris is Burning portrays that as a marvelous, wonderful thing, it never lies to you about the truth of its costs and tolls. nor does the film try to trick you into believing that the ball culture is monolithic -- it's not made up of demographics. it's made up of individuals, all with their own hopes, beliefs, motivations, and pains.
a perfect movie as far as i'm concerned.