(*homocinematically inclined)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dearie Awards 2010: Documentary of the Year - STONEWALL UPRISING

The seminal event in GLBT liberation history finally received the unadulterated film treatment it deserved in the revelatory documentary Stonewall Uprising. Previous docs have dealt with events leading up to and following the riots that occurred in and around Greenwich Village's Stonewall Inn in the summer of 1969, and one fictional movie (1995's Stonewall) depicted some of the events and players involved. It wasn't until 2010, however, that this assemblage of you-are-there archival footage and interviews with participants on both sides of the divide came together with the admirable intent of trying to separate fact from legend.

The result is more inspirational than anything we've witnessed before, and Stonewall Uprising (due on DVD April 26) is a true must-see for neophyte students and long-dedicated activists alike. When a New York City police officer (now in his 80's) who was there questions the wisdom of the crackdown on the Stonewall, attention must be paid.

Honorable Mentions:
8: The Mormon Proposition was an eye-opening, if not exactly unbiased, exploration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' well-organized support of California's Proposition 8, which sought to amend the state's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Of course, there's no rule that says filmmakers, including documentarians, have to be unbiased; if there were, Michael Moore would have been out of a job long ago. As legal challenges to the now-infamous Prop 8 continue to be filed and heard, time and justice will hopefully declare it unconstitutional once and for all. Until then, the religious forces of opposition to marriage equality need to be called out, and this film does an exceptional job at that.

Walt Disney Studios had a notoriously difficult time adjusting to meet more sophisticated audience expectations between the 1970's-1980's. Waking Sleeping Beauty provides an intimate peek behind the scenes during the company's late 80's makeover that ushered in an animation renaissance with such massive successes as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Interestingly but perhaps unsurprisingly, the film hints that these significant Disney achievements might not have been possible if not for the artistic contributions of gay talents/visionaries Howard Ashman (who died, tragically, of AIDS-related complications in 1991) and Elton John, among others. An all-around insightful film for all of us "Disney queens" out here.

Click the following links to read our original reviews: Stonewall Uprising, 8: The Mormon Proposition and Waking Sleeping Beauty.

UPDATE: Stonewall Uprising is now available on DVD from

By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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