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55 minutes, 1989 Produced, Directed and Edited by Marlon Riggs
ABOUT THE FILM
Marlon Riggs' essay film Tongues United gives voice to communities of black gay men, presenting their cultures and perspectives on the world as they confront racism, homophobia, and marginalization. It broke new artistic ground by mixing poetry (by Essex Hemphill and other artists), music, performance and Riggs' autobiographical revelations. The film was embraced by black gay audiences for its authentic representation of style, and culture, as well its fierce response to oppression. It opened up opportunities for dialogue among and across communities.
Tongues Untied has been lauded by critics for its vision and its bold aesthetic advances, and vilified by anti-gay forces who used it to condemn government funding of the arts.It was even denounced from the floor of Congress.
"Black men loving Black men is the revolutionary act" is the rallying cry at the film's end and after more than 20 years, Tongues United remains a celebrated vehicle for eloquent self-expression and liberation.
"A black male warrior fighting for the right to love other black men, Marlon Riggs affirms what was nearly lost, newly found; the certainty that black male lives are utterly precious."
"The film's meditation on what it means to be black and gay in America is candid, provocative and original and speaks to the perseverance of the human spirit. Teachers and students interested in race, class, gender, sexuality and HIV/AIDS must have Tongues Untied."
E. Patrick Johnson, Northwestern University
"One of the most significant documentaries in the last 30 years, still unique in its often overwhelming performative power. It is an intensely personal and moving work that merits inclusion in any library collection."
Gary Handman, Director, University of California-Berkeley, Media Resources Center