I can watch Paris Is Burning and Frances Ha on repeat but for entirely different reasons. Paris Is Burning (USA, 1990, Academy Entertainment) is a documentary centered on the intricate, underground Ball culture. While the film’s magnetic subjects demonstrate unique practices (such as “voguing”), they also reveal the intricacies and origins of an influential subculture, shedding light on the struggles of the LGBT community of that time and place.
Available on iTunes and Amazon Video
Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha — shot in black-and-white and co-written with actress Greta Gerwig — is much lighter (USA, 2012, IFC Films). Frances, the protagonist, is a 27-year-old struggling with maintaining personal relationships, the impossibility of achieving her dreams and paying rent in New York City while remaining charming and optimistic. Influenced by mumblecore style of dialogue, this film tells the story of a not-quite-professional dancer who eventually finds more success behind the curtain. Both films beautifully feature my favorite thing in the world: dance.
Available on Google Play and iTunes
— Chelsea Zeffiro, 40 North Dance Festival cofounder, 40northfest.com