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  • The cast of the film stand in a group, posing.
  • A person on stilts wears a headdress and shiny outfit, surrounded by spectators.
  • Venus Xtravaganza struts, wearing a dress with poofy sleeves.

Jennie Livingston’s

HELD OVER! Must End Thursday, July 11

4:45 & 9:15 ONLY


(1991) The 80s seen through the eyes of NYC’s African American and Latinx Harlem drag ball scene, an intimate portrait of rival fashion “houses,” from fierce contests for trophies, to house mothers offering sustenance in a world rampant with homophobia, racism, AIDS, and poverty. Featuring legendary voguers, drag queens, and trans women including Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, and Venus Xtravaganza. Made by Livingston over seven years, Paris is Burning premiered at Film Forum in 1991 for a blockbuster 6-month run. DCP Restoration. Approx. 78 min.

Digitally remastered by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with Sundance Institute and Outfest UCLA Legacy Project. Preservation funded by Sundance Institute, Outfest and the Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation.

Presented with support from the R.G. Rifkind Foundation Endowment for Queer Cinema.

Featuring an exclusive in-theater intermission mix by House of Vogue DJ MikeQ. Listen here.


“Introduced audiences to a vibrant subculture where queer people of color were taking drag to new creative heights, and being celebrated for every glamorous display.”
– Mekado Murphy, The New York Times

“Seeing her documentary as soon as possible means you can spend the rest of your life having its sense of humanity amuse, surprise and devastate you, over and over.”
– Wesley Morris, The New York Times

“Queer culture’s revenge on the world that surrounds and excludes it.”
Time Out

“Combines drama, sociology, culture and history into a powerful, passionate and entertaining package… Livingston fleshes out not just the cultural facts of the ball scene and its attitudes but, more significantly, the struggle for survival at its roots.”
– Karl Soehnlein, Out Week

“Loaded with ironies of the sort that encourage heavy-duty sociological analysis, because virtually every aspect of this community of underdogs imitates some perceived value of the white middle-class heterosexual society from which they feel excluded.”
– Terrence Rafferty, The New Yorker

“Zeroing in on an obscure and outré corner of a subculture, Livingston’s film ends up shedding an extraordinary light on American culture as a whole.”
– David Ansen, Newsweek

“A politically astute, historically important document of our precarious times.”
– Michelle Parkerson, The Black Film Review

Film Forum