There’s a new movie on the horizon that is putting a spotlight on activism in the best kind of nontraditional way.
Kiki, a documentary about the underground ballroom subculture driven by LGBT youth of color, has seeped into mainstream thanks to its release in New York during the Red Bull Music Academy Festival. The movie is directed by Sara Jordeno and co-written by Twiggy Pucci Garcon who is seen as a gatekeeper for the Kiki culture, as well as an activist.
The movie follows seven characters over four years, while each character is coming in their own. The film uses this ballroom culture to highlight key social issues like homelessness, illness, and prejudice.
A Kiki ball, if you are wondering, is a competition where teams – known as ‘houses’ – compete in different categories like runway, face, and vogue, and for some of these youth, these houses provide them with another family.
“This youth-led Kiki scene has become this very successful scene where youth can grow up, be raised by their peers, but they also get to get in contact with these services and they get to practice this amazing art form. It’s all intertwined,” Jordeno said, while speaking to NBC News.
This culture — and the balls that go with it — is a safe place for the youth, who usually deal with hard lives.
“It’s freedom, it’s judgment free. You can be yourself, you can be who you want to be and no one is judging you,” said Christopher Waldorf, 25, one of the cast members of the documentary when it premiered at El Museo del Barrio. “You can feel loved, you can find family, and it’s where I found myself.”
This Kiki scene seeks inspiration from many places including performance-based art like ‘Vogue’ which was brought into the mainstream by Madonna’s music video and the documentary “Paris is Burning.” This film makes it known that within this culture, there is a strong sense of political and social awareness.
(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)