Kiki ★★★½

I appreciate any documentary that gives a platform to trans and gender non-conforming and queer people of color and allows them to speak openly about their experiences. The ballroom scene in New York has a rich history and this documentary reminds me that though the balls have changed quite a bit since the days of Paris is Burning, they still exist, and for many people, they are life-saving.

Sara Jordenö's direction leaves a lot to be desired. Her approach to documentary filmmaking is different than Jenny Livingston's, and I certainly don't prefer it. Whereas Livingston keeps herself out of her documentary, Jordenö is both seen and heard in hers. While the people she showcases have a lot of great things to say, her interviews with them feel a bit amateurish at times. The shots here are decently composed, nothing unusual for a documentary, but they pale in comparison to those in Paris is Burning.

I don't usually rate films on a basis of comparison like this, but this film kind of asks for it. Paris is Burning was the past, and Kiki is the present. I wish it was better crafted and included a bit more history (as there's still so much I don't know), but the discussions of issues within the LGBTQ community (homelessness, HIV, the threat of violence and murder, sexual exploitation/abuse, etc.) made this certainly worth the watch. Also, obvious point: there are some FANTASTIC dancers showcased here.

Rating: 64/100

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