Stonewall Outloud

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Stonewall Outloud Movie Poster Image
Highly original, affecting docu about iconic LGBTQ uprising.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 32 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

One event, though unexpected, has the power to change history. Values promoted: living authentic lives; standing up for one's dignity in the face of relentless harassment; and taking steps to right wrongs.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Portrays members of the LGBTQ community over several decades with respect, compassion, and admiration for their courage. Lauds the fearlessness and integrity of participants in a life-changing historical event. Ethnic and gender diversity throughout. 

Violence

Some violence in archival newsreel footage. Discussions about the harassment and beatings of LGBTQ folks over many decades. Conversations give details of physically fighting back.

Sex

Movie is based on events and real-life individuals from the LGBTQ communities. Interviews are conducted with gay men, lesbians, transgender folks, drag queens, past and present.

Language

"Hell," "bad ass," "homo."

Consumerism

Events are set in The Stonewall Inn, NYC.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Footage from 1960s and '70s take place in a bar where alcohol is being served. Cigarettes are shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stonewall Outloud is a short (32 minute) documentary commemorating the people and events of June 28, 1969, when patrons of The Stonewall Inn, a Manhattan gay bar, resisted arrest and fought back against the New York City Police Department. "The Stonewall Uprising," as it's widely known, is marked as a significant event for the world's LGBTQ community as they fought against law enforcement that night, and continue to fight for equal rights, as well as freedom from repression and harassment. Legal statutes and bigotry had marginalized their lives. The Uprising energized a proactive movement. Viewers will see newsreel footage showing the riots, as well as frank discussions about physical fights between police and protestors. Archival material shows folks in bars, drinking; some men are in drag; cigarettes are seen. A few curses and slurs are heard (i.e., "hell," "bad ass," "homo"). 

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What's the story?

For the 50th anniversary of a seminal moment in LGBTQ history, STONEWALL OUTLOUD describes, comments upon, and recreates events before, during, and after the 1969 riots at The Stonewall Inn in New York City. On June 28, 1969, members of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community were being arrested en masse by the NYPD, headed by Seymour Pine, commander of its Public Morals Squad. Taken from the Stonewall bar by force, they resisted for the first time. Violence erupted. Using extensive archival footage, interviews with contemporary actors and activists from then and now, and very significantly, lip-synced audio interviews recorded in 1989 for Public Radio production of "Remembering Stonewall," the filmmaking team brings the repressive conditions and ultimately violent period to life. Some of the folks interviewed by StoryCorps' Dave Isay for the radio program are still alive and appear on screen; their participation is exceptionally poignant. 

Is it any good?

Directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have met their goal, utilizing heartfelt testimony and inventive, thoughtful film techniques to deliver a remarkable and moving cinematic experience. Using current activists and personalities to lip-sync 30-year-old radio interviews must have been a risky undertaking, but it works. The on-camera "speakers" hold photographs of the real folks as they "talk." It's done with precision and sensitivity. Additionally, the film team makes the most of brief recreations of events that don't detract from the tale they are telling. A highlight of Stonewall Outloud is Daniel Franzese's compelling performance as he lip-syncs the testimony of Seymour Pine, the police officer in charge. While all of the performers are excellent, the real-life participants interviewed -- Randy Wicker, "Tree," Martin Boyce -- bring special sensitivity to what was for each of them a life-changing moment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the filmmakers' decision to use current actors and personalities to lip-sync the voices of actual participants in the Stonewall Riots. What was the impact of hearing the words of those actually involved? Were those moments enriched by seeing photographs of the people who were speaking?

  • Documentary films are made to entertain, inform, inspire, and/or persuade. Which category(ies) best describes Stonewall Outloud? Why?

  • A voice in the film states: "That night, we found our place in history -- not as jokes, not as case studies, not as freaks, but as people." Based upon your knowledge and awareness of LGBTQ life today, what can you point to as evidence that the statement is true? Do you think that the community's struggle is over? Why or why not?

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