Kiki, the new film by Sara Jordenö and Twiggy Pucci Garcon, is about the queer struggle: to be seen, to be loved, to live and fight for justice in a world that is personally and politically unkind. And it's about the relationship between that struggle and how queer spaces and physical movement as artistry can be an act of political engagement and activism. Or, at least, that's what it wants to be about. The trouble with Kiki is its own struggle and ambivalence: The creators want it to exist independently of its queer predecessor, Jennie Livingston's landmark documentary Paris Is Burning, even as they've positioned Kiki as a millennial update.
In the dialogue, Jordenö and Garcon try to make explicit that the kiki-ball scene is different from the drag-ball landscape of earlier queer generations. They do a lot of telling but little showing about how that is true and why it matters. Kiki may show a vague juxtaposition between vogueing and education as forms of political activism, but on its own, the film offers little sociopolitical context and insight. Its discussions of gender performance aren't uninteresting -- the subjects' flowingly balletic movements get captivatingly contrasted against New York's harsh urban architecture. But it reiterates less elegantly Livingston's rhetoric about queerness without a new sense of urgency or touching on exactly why it's frustrating that the same injustices were still taking place in 2015 (when the film was shot), relegating Kiki to a barely artful cover song.
Sara JordenöChi Chi Mizrahi, Gia Marie Love, Divo Pink Lady, Twiggy Pucci Garcon, Izana "Zaryia Mizrahi" Vidal, Christopher Waldorf, Kenneth "Symba Mcqueen" Soler-RiosSara Jordenö, Twiggy Pucci GarconAnnika Rogell, Tobias Janson, Lori CheatleSundance Selects