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Directed by Marlon T. Riggs

United States 1990 55 mins. In English

To this day, probably the most important film on Black gay life in the US is Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied!, a milestone hybrid documentary featuring necessary testimony by members of the community including prominent sections of Riggs’ own remembrances of his sexual awakening and of friends lost to AIDS, among other touching and heartbreaking topics. Through a series of performative vignettes and documentary portraits, Riggs uncovers, in one hour, a kaleidoscope of experience and paints beautifully elaborate and gentle portraits of those whose portrait had never before been taken. “Tongues Untied was motivated by a singular imperative: to shatter America’s brutalizing silence around matters of sexual and racial difference. Yet despite a concerted smear and censorship campaign, perhaps even because of it, this work achieved its aim. The 55-minute video documents a nationwide community of voices–some quietly poetic, some undeniably raw and angry–which together challenge society’s most deeply entrenched myths about what it means to be black, gay, a man, and above all, human.”—Marlon Riggs. “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.”—Alice Walker.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.