Director: Nigel Finch
Screenwriters: Rikki Beadle Blair, Martin Duberman

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


New York in the summer of 1969. Gay country boy Matty Dean arrives on a Greyhound bus and heads downtown, where he falls into Stonewall, the wild hangout of fabulous drag queens, where later that summer diva LaMiranda decides to fight back against a police raid. In the year of the Apollo moon walk, homosexuality was still illegal. Although customarily ignored by clubs and bars, there were still laws prohibiting the sale of liquor to homosexuals and requiring gender-appropriate dress codes. The police didn’t ignore these laws, using them for routine harassment sprees.

This was also the time of the first gay rights demonstrations, led by organizations such as the Mattachine Society. In Nigel Finch‘s Stonewall, Matty is caught between the disreputable warmth and glamor of the Stonewall gang and the more sober political efforts of gay activists determined to fight the system from within. Similarly, he has to choose between flashy lip-syncher LaMiranda and his other love interest, Ethan, who is searching for social acceptance.

Matty‘s story offers an account of the beginning of the gay rights movement from one young man‘s point of view. Stonewall may be controversial in its presentation of the watershed drag queen riots after Judy Garland‘s death. The exuberance and colorful charm of the film, however, open up this history to a new generation. Fictionalized from the book "Stonewall" by Martin Duberman

— Kay Armatage, Toronto Film festival

Screening Details

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