2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: KIKI

kikiHeading into the second half of the US Documentary Competition: KIKI, Sara Jordenö’s profile of NYC’s vibrant LGBTQ youth ballroom scene.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

25 years after PARIS IS BURNING, we dive back into the fierce world of voguing battles in the Kiki scene of New York City, where competition between Houses demands leadership, painstaking practice, and performances on point. A film collaboration between Kiki gatekeeper, Twiggy Pucci Garçon, and Swedish filmmaker Sara Jordenö, we’re granted exclusive access into this high stakes world, where tough competitions act as a gateway into the daily lives of LGBTQ youth of color in NYC. The new generation of ballroom youth use the motto, “Not About Us Without Us.” Twiggy and Sara’s insider-outsider approach to their stories breathes fresh life into the representation of a marginalized community who demand visibility and real political power.

It’s easy to fall in love with the underground dancing in KIKI, while the backbone showcases the House family structures, thereby allowing community members to flourish. Inspiring leadership, today’s Kiki scene is made up of strong relationships and unbelievable resilience, which fill this frank and frenetic film with great hope. KIKI continues traditions of the past while defiantly rooting itself in today’s politics, style, and language.

Some Background:
Director: Sara Jordenö
This is NYC- and Gothenberg-based Jordenö’s first feature documentary. A visual artist and university lecturer, her artwork has focused on subcultures and communities, typically made in collaboration with its members. She has extended this methodology here by co-writing the film with Twiggy Pucci Garçon, who has been part of the Kiki scene since 2009, and involved with the larger ballroom scene since 2004.

Producers: Annika Rogell and Lori Cheatle
Rogell, representing Swedish production company Story, counts two previous Sundance docs among her producing credits: CONCERNING VIOLENCE (2014) and THE BLACK POWER MIX TAPE 1967-1975 (2011). Hard Working Films’ Cheatle is also a Sundance alumna with CAPTIVATED: THE TRIALS OF PAMELA SMART (2014).

Executive Producer: Tobias Janson
Story’s Janson served in the same role for MIXTAPE, and as a producer for VIOLENCE.

Why You Should Watch:
While revisiting the milieu of PARIS IS BURNING, Jordenö and Pucci Garçon’s film is more than a simple update. Like its young protagonists, who are part of an intentional community that is aware of its history, but bold and self-possessed enough to seek to chart its own path, the film forges its own identity, providing a captivating window into modern urban queer youth life and culture.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artists

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.


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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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