Before Stonewall (1984)

GRETA SCHILLER, ROBERT ROSENBERG

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1984.  Before Stonewall Inc., Center for the Study of Filmed History, Alternative Media Information Center.  Cinematography by , , .  Produced by , .  Film Editing by .  

Thought-provoking documentary about the life and culture of gays and lesbians in America before the Stonewall riots of 1969 prompted a change in the way the country saw them.

A terrific collection of footage accentuates the powerful stories told by members of the community (including Allen Ginsberg) who relate their experiences from the time period being covered. Narrated by author , the film shows how police raids on bars, the pressures of social conformity and the complete lack of representation in the media (aside from the odd reference to deviants and perverts) were just some of the dark influences that people had to endure.

Running far too short at a mere 87 minutes, this film would have been welcome to take its time and expand more on the subjects it presents, but otherwise is a factually plentiful, satisfying look at one of the many times of fearful oppression in America. Followed by a sequel, After Stonewall.

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