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Stonewall Uprising

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The event -- a fairly routine busting of a gay bar called The Stonewall in Greenwich Village, in the summer of 1969 -- became, as one interviewee describes it, "the Rosa Parks moment of gay rights." The public stand-off that resulted from the police raid came to be known as The Stonewall Riots. Mythologizing, it's true, can be more sentimental than historically accurate, but some social movements do ignite from a single spark. Stonewall was one such trigger, if only because the anger generated that night led to a coalition of New York gays, which led to a gay-pride march, which led to pride marches in other cities, and so on.

Kate Davis and David Heilbroner's documentary is a straightforward account of that evening, along with brief recap of the fraught times that proceeded it, when gays could be arrested or declared mentally ill, and most lived secretive lives. One of the few places gays could openly meet were gay bars. Hence the outrage when such havens (however shabby, like the Stonewall) were regularly raided.

The filmmakers combine a scant amount of archival footage with extensive interviews with folks who were on the scene that night, including some bar patrons, street kids, reporters from The Village Voice (on the same block) and the N.Y. cop who led the raid. The film is padded with additional footage to establish how difficult life could be for homosexuals prior to Stonewall. It goes without saying: If younger people, gay or straight, don't know this history, Uprising offers an eye-opening, if perfunctory, lesson. Starts Fri., Aug. 13. Harris (AH)

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