Program 25: Riot
Directed by Jeffrey Walker
As many people know, the modern gay pride parade has its roots in protest marches of the 1970s. Throughout the 70s, the queer community in cities around the world would hold solidarity marches to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. These marches only started becoming festive events after the community in Sydney, Australia decided to turn their march into a “gay Mardi Gras” in 1978. But what most people don’t know is the incredible price this first group of revelers would have to pay. Riot is their story.
Beginning in 1972 and culminating with that fateful night in 1978, Riot centers on Lance Gowland and his group of gay and lesbian friends. Through their eyes we see queer people being harassed, beaten up, arrested, expelled, fired, and worse. We experience the heartbreak of a mother losing custody of her children, the desperation of a young man choosing to take his own life, and the crushing loneliness that accompanies a life where love is illegal. But we also get to watch as they take comfort in the support of their chosen family, find the courage to fall in love, and even win the occasional battle. Above all, we see this intrepid group continue to fight, fight, fight for the acceptance that many of us now enjoy.
An inspiring story of courage in the face of oppression, Riot is so much more than just a queer history lesson. It perfectly mixes real-life events and the people who actually experienced them with tender personal moments and large-scale political movements to tell a rich, full story. Often enraging but always engaging, it will both make you angry and fill you with hope. Riot is an emotional call to action that everyone in our community needs to see.
— Stephen K. Weisenreder
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Frameline San Francisco Int’l LGBTQ Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival