“BEFORE STONEWALL”

June 22, 2019 at 4:45 am

The groundbreaking 1984 film “Before Stonewall” introduced audiences to some of the key players and places that helped spark the Greenwich Village riots. Now, 50 years later, the film is back. We have your preview.

For more information on “Before Stonewall,” click here. 

Aired on June 21, 2019.

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> THE STONEWALL INN IS OFTEN
CALLED GROUND ZERO FOR THE GAY
RIGHTS MOVEMENT.
BUT THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER
PLACES AND PEOPLE THAT SET THE
STAGE FOR THE LEGENDARY 1969
GREENWICH VILLAGE RIOTS.
MANY OF THE STRUGGLES PRECEDING
THE UPRISING ARE AT THE CENTER
OF THE DOCUMENTARY "BEFORE
STONEWALL, THE MAKING OF A GAY
AND LESBIAN COMMUNITY."
THE FILM WON TWO EMMY AWARDS.
35 YEARS LATER, IT HAS BEEN
RESTORED AND RERELEASED TO
COMMEMORATE THE 50th ANNIVERSARY
OF STONEWALL AND NOW SHOWING IS
AT THE QUAD CINEMA HERE IN NEW
YORK CITY.
AS WE CONTINUE THE CELEBRATION
OF THE SUMMER OF '69, WE'RE
LOOKING BACK AT THE FILM AND ITS
IMPACT.
HERE'S A CLIP.
§
§
A FANTASTIC EFFORT THAT WENT ON
FOR A LOT OF THE GAY FREEDOMS WE
HAVE AND A LOT OF IT DID GET
GOING BEFORE STONEWALL.
>> PEOPLE QUITE OFTEN ASK, WELL,
WHAT WAS SPECIAL ABOUT THAT
NIGHT FRIDAY, JUNE 27th, 1969.
THERE WAS NO ONE THING THAT WAS
SPECIAL ABOUT IT.
IT WAS JUST EVERYTHING COMING
TOGETHER, ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS
IN HISTORY WHERE AND IF YOU WERE
THERE, YOU JUST KNEW THIS IS IT.
THIS IS WHAT WE'VE BEEN WAITING
FOR.
>> AND JOINING US NOW IS THE
DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER "BEFORE
STONEWALL," GRET SCHILLER.
WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> NICE TO BE HERE.
>> YOU MADE THIS FILM IN THE
EARLY '80s.
IT WASN'T 2019.
HOW CHALLENGING WAS IT TO GET
MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY TO TELL
THEIR PERSONAL STORIES AND
STRUGGLES IN FRONT OF A CAMERA
BACK THEN.
>> VERY CHALLENGING.
YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER OF THE
PEOPLE THAT WE WANTED TO
INTERVIEW BECAUSE WE WERE GOING
FROM THE TURN OF THE CENTURY TO
THE RIOTS IN '69 WERE PEOPLE HO
HAD LIVED THE BULK OF THEIR
LIVES IN THE CLOSET AND MANY OF
THEM WERE STILL CLOSETED AT WORK
FROM THEIR FAMILIES, MANY OF
THEIR FRIENDS.
AT AT THAT TIME, THERE WERE NO
CIVIL RIGHTS FOR HOMOSEXUALS.
YOU COULD YOU HAVE LOST YOUR
JOB, YOUR HOUSING.
YOU WOULD BE SHUNNED SOCIALLY.
IT'S JUST KIND OF HARD TO
IMAGINE THAT.
THAT'S HOW FAST THINGS HAVE
CHANGED.
SO WE HAD TO ORGANIZE KIND OF 
LIKE A DETECTIVE AGENCY WHERE
THE ARCHIVE RESEARCHERS SET UP
TEAMS OF RESEARCHERS IN LIKE
SEVEN OR EIGHT CITIES.
I MEAN THE GAY MOVEMENT HAD
TAKEN OFF IN THE '70s INTO THE
'80s.
THERE WERE GAY GROUPS.
THERE WAS A HUGE UNDERGROUND
PRESS STILL ACTIVE.
SOMEONE SAID THE "SAN FRANCISCO
CHRONICLE" IS THE BIGGEST GAY
PAPER IN THE WORLD.
WE WOULD PUT ADS SAYING WE WERE
DOING THE FILM AND LOOKING FOR
PEOPLE WE COTALK TO ABOUT THEIR
LIVES AND THEN WE WOULD DO
PREINTERVIEWS AND THEN OFTEN WE
WOULD VISIT SOMEONE AT THEIR
HOME AND WE WOULD WANT TO LOOK
AT THEIR HOME MOVIES OR THEIR
PERSONAL SCRAPBOOKS.
THEY'RE LIKE WHAT?
THAT'S NOT HISTORY.
BUT OF COURSE, IT WAS THE ONLY
PLACE TO FIND HISTORY AT THAT
TIME.
BECAUSE THE ARCHIVES THEY DIDN'T
EVEN HAVE REALLY WOMEN LISTED IN
ARCHIVES.
ARCHIVES WERE THE PROTECTORS OF
DOMINANT CULTURE.
ANDREA SPENT LIKE TWO YEARS IN
DARK ROOMS, THREADING STEAM
BACKS, LOOKING AT MATERIAL AND
LOOKING AT IMAGES IN A DIFFERENT
WAY AND SAYING IF YOU HAVE THESE
BEAUTIFUL BOYS DOING EXERCISES
IN WORLD WAR II WHO IS TO SAY
SOME OF THEM AREN'T GAY?
WHY CAN'T WE HAVE A DIFFERENT
READING OF THE I THINK AND THEN
VITO RUSSO WAS A FRIEND.
HE HADN'T PUBLISHED HIS BOOK
CELLULAR CLOSET YET BUT HE LED
US TO ALL THE HOLLYWOOD CLIPS.
>> IT SPANS QUITE A LONG TIME
FROM THE TURN OF THE CENTURY TO
THE STONEWALL RIOTS.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE MOMENTS IN
THAT PERIOD OF TIME BOTH GOOD
AND BAD THAT YOU THINK WERE
MOSTPY VOL VOTAL FOR THE GAY
RIGHTS MOVEMENT.
>> IT WAS JUST GAY COMMUNITY,
FINDING OTHERS LIKE YOURSELF.
SO OBVIOUSLY URBAN CENTERS.
SO IN THE TWENS WHEN PEOPLE IN
THE ROARING '20s YOU COULD
DISAPPEAR INTO THE OF CULTURAL
SPHERE, THE BARS AND THE DANCING
AND THE CRAZINESS AND A LOT OF
THE MOST FAMOUS ENTERTAINERS
WERE GAY OR LESBIAN.
THEN THE SECOND BIG WAS WORLD
WAR II.
FOR ONE THING, WOMEN COULD LEAVE
THEIR HOMES WHICH MEANT LESBIANS
WHO ARE WOMEN WERE ABLE TO GO TO
CITIES OR JOIN THE MILITARY AND
HAVE AN INCOME AND LIVE
INDEPENDENTLY.
UP UNTIL THAT TIME WOMEN, IT WAS
REALLY HARD FOR A WOMAN HOP LIVE
INDEPENDENTLY AND HAVE A JOB.
SO OF COURSE, THINGS HAPPENED.
AND THEN IT WOULD GET OUT, WELL,
YOU KNOW, THIS BATTALION HAS A
LOT OF LESBIANS.
PEOPLE WOULD WANT TO GET INTO
THAT ONE AND SAME FOR MEN AND IT
KIND OF WAS A INTERESTING THING
THAT WAS IN THE MILITARY.
>> YOU KNOW, GROUND ZERO THE
STONEWALL RIOTS GROUND ZERO AND
RIGHTLY SO, BUT TO WHAT DEGREE
DO YOU THINK THAT STONEWALL HAS
OVERSHADOWED THE CHALLENGES AND
THE STRUGGLES THAT YOU DOCUMENT
IN YOUR FILM?
>> WELL, I THINK FOR ANY YOUNG
PERSON AND FIRST OF ALL, ANYONE
UNDER YOU KNOW, 40 SAY, WHICH IS
YOUNG TO US NOW, THEY DON'T HAVE
MUCH IDEA OF HISTORY, PERIOD.
RIGHT?
THEY'RE LIVING IN THE MOMENT AND
HISTORY IS SOMETHING MAYBE YOU
STUDY IN SCHOOL.
SO I THINK THE IDEA THAT THERE
WERE SOME THINGS HAPPENING THAT
SOME PEOPLE FOUND COMMUNITIES
AND IDENTITIES AND LIVED THEIR
LIVES AS BUNNY SAYS, YOU DECIDED
TO TRUST YOURSELF AND FLY WITH
THAT, OR THINK OF YOURSELF AS
SICK AND MENTALLY ILL AND THAT
WAS WHAT YOU HAD TO DO.
>> THERE'S SO MUCH MORE TO TALK
ABOUT.
UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE OUT OF
TIME.
IT'S A WONDERFUL FILM AND I'M SO
GLAD IT'S BEING RERELEASED AND
PEOPLE CAN SEE IT NOW.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.
IT WAS REALLY FUN.
>> THANK YOU.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON "BEFORE
STONEWALL" FROM FIRST RUN
FEATURES YOU CAN HEAD OVER TO
OUR WEBSITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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