(Dirs. Kate Davis & David Heilbroner, 2010)Despite having no footage and only 6 photos of the incident, one gets a good sense of the 1969 Stonewall riots’ vast importance to the gay rights movement. As one of the interviewees posits, it was actually more of anuprising than a riot when a large group of patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York, fought back against police raids.
Recreations and era period pictures help get us there visually, but it’s the anecdotal evidence given by people who were there, surprisingly including former NYC Mayor Ed Koch (then a congressman), that makes the thing tick. It’s an essential educational experience – from the disturbing yet funny anti-homosexual propaganda films of the 50’s that set the suppressed scene to the first gay pride parades that stemmed from Stonewall, there is much to take home from this well crafted documentary.
Stonewall Uprising is making the festival rounds and will open early this summer around the nation. Schedule here. Synopsis:
“It was the Rosa Parks moment,” says one man. June 28, 1969: NYC police raid a Greenwich Village Mafia-run gay bar, The Stonewall Inn. For the first time, patrons refuse to be led into paddy wagons, setting off a 3-day riot that launches the Gay Rights Movement. Told by Stonewall patrons, Village Voice reporters and the cop who led the raid, Stonewall Uprising compellingly recalls the bad old days when psychoanalysts equated homosexuality with mental illness and advised aversion therapy, and even lobotomies; public service announcements warned youngsters against predatory homosexuals; and police entrapment was rampant. A treasure-trove of archival footage gives life to this all-too-recent reality, a time when Mike Wallace announced on a 1966 CBS Reports: “The average homosexual, if there be such, is promiscuous. He is not interested in, nor capable of, a lasting relationship like that of a heterosexual marriage.” At the height of this oppression, the cops raid Stonewall, triggering nights of pandemonium with tear gas, billy clubs and a small army of tactical police. The rest is history.