Before Stonewall (1984) - Stonewall Riots 50th Anniversary

Deptford Cinema, Lewisham, SE8 4PQ
Sun 7th July 2019
  • dir. Greta SCHILLER
  • year. 1984
  • country. USA
  • run-time. 87 mins

Before Stonewall charts the queer lives, communities and struggles which have long existed in America like in most societies and which gave way to the three nights of rioting sparked by a police raid of gay bar the Stonewall Inn, understood by received wisdom to signal the birth of the modern Gay Liberation Movement. Greta Schiller’s highly influential restorative film uses meticulous archive footage and interviews to piece together decade by decade the personal and public lives of LGBT people in their own words, the oppression and brutality but also the figures, activism, scenes, and events which shaped and together gave the community a language, identity and eventually come 1969 a movement.

From the Harlem Renaissance to the Civil Rights Movement via McCarthyism the film illuminates a hidden history with legendary interviews with everyone from Audre Lorde to Barbara Gittings to Alan Ginsberg asserting that queer people have always existed and been ready to riot.

Before Stonewall remains a sobering watch in particular today when the legacy of the Stonewall riots are all too often sanitised and gutted out in favour of corporate police sponsored Pride parades instead of serving to headline the material concerns like housing, healthcare and prisons that most effect queer people, and as a reminder of the urgent need to engage with our history, re-radicalise our movement and once again turn it out on to the streets that have always been ours to take.

Being screened to celebrate and reflect on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall this June and launch new queer cinema project Framing Queers the film will be followed by talks and a discussion.

~~~~ Framing Queers manifesto ~~~~
The confrontational and joyous, trashy and high-minded, transgressive and sly, toe-curling and bone-chilling - Framing Queers sets out to screen and bring new audiences to queer and LGBT cinema in all its disruptive glory, in particular radical, global, and neglected work from throughout its history.

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Google map static shot of Deptford Cinema, Lewisham, SE8 4PQ
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