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Film Series: Runs & Limited Engagements

Before Stonewall

1984, Greta Schiller and Robert Rosenberg, USA, 87 min.
Narrated by Rita Mae Brown

Show Times

  • Fri, Jul 5th 2:00pm
  • Fri, Jul 5th 8:30pm
  • Sat, Jul 6th 8:15pm
  • Sun, Jul 7th 5:15pm
  • Mon, Jul 8th 6:00pm
  • Wed, Jul 10th 8:30pm
New restoration! John D'Emilio and Marge Summit in person!

"They pack a lot of history into the informative and exhaustive BEFORE STONEWALL, while keeping it fast-paced and entertaining."—Jason Bailey, DVD Talk

"This touching, compelling, but, above all, enlightening film is highly recommended."—David Hall, GayCelluloid.com

Given a new digital restoration on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, this groundbreaking documentary is a lucid, entertaining, and expertly edited account of the evolution of the gay community in the repressive era preceding that epochal outburst. The filmmakers do an impressive job of excavating a largely hidden history with fascinating archival materials and moving personal testimonies from those who persevered and even managed to make progress in the face of persecution and discrimination. Concise but substantial, the film covers such topics as the bohemian demimondes of 1920s Harlem and Greenwich Village, the allure of early lesbian novels such as The Well of Loneliness and Odd Girl Out, the importance of World War II in expanding gay awareness ("The Induction Center became the Seduction Center"), the postwar struggle between emerging liberation (the Howl trial) and reactionary retrenchment (McCarthyism), the first gay organizations (Mattachine Society, Daughters of Bilitis), and the inspiration of the Civil Rights movement to turn the fight for gay rights in a more militant direction. New 2K DCP digital restoration. (MR)

John D'Emilio, UIC professor emeritus and principal historical advisor for BEFORE STONEWALL, is scheduled to appear for audience discussion on Sunday. He will be joined by Marge Summit, longtime activist and member of the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, who appears in the film.

Play Trailer