The Criterion Collection, which focuses on licensing "important classic and contemporary films," has announced its film releases for February 2020, one of which includes the 1990 ballroom documentary Paris is Burning. Included in that release will be not only a restoration, but previously unseen footage.
Over the summer, Jennie Livingston, who directed the groundbreaking film, introduced a new 2K digital restoration of the project. That restoration was done by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Sundance Institute and Outfest UCLA Legacy Project and overseen by Livingston herself. It then saw a release in theaters, and now, it is going to Blu-ray. In addition, the disc will come with bonus features.
Of the features, The Criterion Collection will release an hour of never-before-seen footage, audio commentary, and a conversation between Livingston, filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris, and ball community members Sol Pendavis and Freddie Pendavis — the latter two were featured in the original film.
A 1991 episode of The Joan Rivers Show, featuring Livingston and ball community members Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, Freddie Pendavis, and Willi Ninja will also be included.
This release of new content comes after longstanding demands from some in the ballroom community for Livingston to release the additional footage.
Paris is Burning chronicles the mid-to-late 1980s ball culture in New York City led by Black and brown gay and transgender communities. The documentary features interviews from trans women such as Venus Xtravaganza (who was murdered before the film’s completion) and Octavia St. Laurent. It most notably introduced slang into the popular lexicon like “reading” and “shade” courtesy of Dorian Corey.
The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2016 for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Paris is Burning will be available on February 25, 2020.