Riveting Recollections of Stonewall Veterans Alive Today Provide Compelling Narration
Quite simply, Stonewall Uprising, which runs for one week only, starting July 9, at the Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis, is the best gay documentary film ever, surpassing even Oscar-winning The Times of Harvey Milk (1984). This new cinematic triumph brings alive the pivotal event of June 28, 1969, that catalyzed the modern gay rights movement.
Producers/directors Kate Davis and David Heilbroner have created a masterful 82-minute film based on the 2004 book Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, by David Carter—who appears several times in the screen version.
Onscreen at the beginning of Stonewall Uprising is the following note: “Few photographs of the raid and riots that followed exist. Other images in this film are either
recreations or drawn from events of the time.”
Throughout, riveting recollections of a score of Stonewall veterans alive today—Martin Boyce, Dick Leitsch, Yvonne Ritter, Martha Shelley, and Doric Wilson, to name a few—skillfully are woven together to provide the compelling narration.
Four decades after the event, they incisively depict the repressive, homophobic climate of 1960s New York City; the police raid on the Stonewall bar and gay resistance to it; and the first Gay Pride March exactly a year later on June 28, 1970.
Several segments of the film especially intrigued me.
A now-aged Seymour Pine, the deputy inspector in charge of the police at Stonewall—who reminisces repeatedly in the film—finally admits regarding the often-youthful homosexuals he had arrested at the time, “You knew they broke the law, but what kind of law was that?”
Playwright Wilson remarks about Stonewall, “We were ourselves for the first time.”
But activist Shelley sums it up best: “In every Gay Pride Parade, every year, Stonewall lives!”
Don’t miss this superlative film about the dawn of gay liberation.