Out This Week: The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs
There has never been a filmmaker quite like Marlon Riggs (1957–1994): an unapologetic gay black man who defied a culture of silence and shame to speak his truth with resounding joy and conviction.
An early adopter of video technology who had a profound understanding of the power of words and images to effect change, Riggs employed a bold mix of documentary, performance, poetry, music, and experimental techniques in order to confront issues that most of Reagan-era America refused to acknowledge, from the devastating legacy of racist stereotypes to the impact of the AIDS crisis on his own queer African American community to the very definition of what it is to be Black.
Bringing together Riggs’s complete works—including his controversy-inciting queer landmark Tongues Untied and Black Is . . . Black Ain’t, his deeply personal career summation – The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs traces the artistic and political evolution of a transformative filmmaker whose work is both an electrifying call for liberation and an invaluable historical document.
Special features include: New high-definition digital masters of all seven films, with uncompressed stereo soundtracks on the Blu-rays; Four new programs featuring editor Christiane Badgley, performers Brian Freeman, Reginald T. Jackson and Bill T. Jones, filmmakers Cheryl Dunye and Rodney Evans, poet Jericho Brown, film and media scholar Racquel Gates and sociologist Herman Gray; Long Train Running: The Story of the Oakland Blues (1981), Riggs’s graduate thesis film; An introduction to Riggs, recorded in 2020 and featuring filmmakers Vivian Kleiman and Shikeith, and Ashley Clark, curatorial director of the Criterion Collection; The documentary I Shall Not Be Removed: The Life of Marlon Riggs (1996); Plus an essay by film critic K. Austin Collins.