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Jennie Livingston

Jennie Livingston

Jennie Livingston is an American director best known for the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning

Livingston was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in Los Angeles. She graduated from Yale University in 1983, where she studied photography, drawing, and painting with a minor in English Literature. Livingston was the niece of the late film director Alan J. Pakula, who initially warned her away from film directing, but later proved encouraging. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Paris is Burning

Livingston's documentary about a New York gay and transgendered Black and Latino ball culture won the 1991 Sundance Grand Jury Prize and was a key film both in the emerging American independent film movement and in the nascent New Queer Cinema. Paris is Burning was one of Miramax Films' earliest successes, and helped pave the way for a current crop of commercially successful documentary films.

Other Works

A nearly-filmed screenplay written by Livingston in 1992, and prophetically titled Not for Profit, included in its cast Lili Taylor, CCH Pounder, Peter Gallagher, Wallace Shawn, and John Cameron Mitchell. The film, a comedy about neo-pagans and professional fundraisers, was also a satire of violence against women in the movies. It was inspired by the Pat Robertson quote "(T)he feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.

Two of Livingston's short films, Hotheads and Who's the Top?," explore lesbian topics: Hotheads, a 1993 documentary created through the AIDS research-friendly Red Hot Organization, explores two comedians' responses to violence against women: cartoonist Diane Dimassa, and writer/performer Reno.

Who's the Top?, Livingston's first dramatic film, premiered at Berlin International Film Festival in 2005, and stars Marin Hinkle, Shelly Mars, and Steve Buscemi. The film, a lesbian sex comedy with musical numbers, also features 24 Broadway dancers choreographed by Broadway choreographer John Carrafa in the manner of Busby Berkeley.

Through the Ice is a digital short, commissioned in 2005 for public television station WNET-New York, about the accidental drowning of Miguel Flores in Prospect Park, Brooklyn; the film was also seen at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

As of 2006, Livingston is directing a documentary feature, Earth Camp One, a personal story about grief, loss, and a hippie summer camp in the 1970s, begun on a 2000 Guggenheim fellowship and also funded by Netflix. She has appeared in others' films, speaking about film and filmmaking, including Fabulous! The Story of Queer Film, created for the cable channel IFC Television in 2006.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2007.

Jennie Livingston Facts

BirthdayFebruary 24, 1962 (60)

Selected Filmography

Paris Is Burning
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