Strap on your dancing shoes and prepare to get down with this electrifying documentary—a critically acclaimed crowd-pleaser at this year’s Sundance Film Festival—about the most famous disco of all time. Opened in midtown Manhattan in 1977, Studio 54 was the place to be, defining an entire era. And then, barely three years later, the party came to an abrupt and scandal-clouded end. Filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor; Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood) takes us deep inside the club experience with never-before-seen images, rare home movie footage featuring Liza Minnelli and Michael Jackson, and magnificent, booming music at every turn.
Studio 54 focuses on the club’s owners, Steve Rubell (who died in 1989 of complications from AIDS) and Ian Schrager, college friends who transformed the cultural landscape in New York City. Fueled by interviews with Schrager, who has until now kept silent about his time at Studio 54, the film paints a colorful portrait of a magical place. Gay and straight disco lovers danced alongside celebrities like Cher, Grace Jones, and Elton John to name a few.
Capturing the glitzy glamour and lurid dramas inside this marvelous mecca of decadence, Tyrnauer provides fascinating details of how the club became a haven for minorities and the ostracized; we learn first-hand what the strict, ever-changing rules were to get inside, as well as how the IRS barged in and took down an amazing—and often amazingly illegal—party. A cautionary tale about the dysfunction of decadence and an inspirational account of a dynamic, diverse community, Studio 54 pulsates with the energy and anxiety of the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era, when people found love, connection, and their groove thing beneath the sparkle of a spinning disco ball.
— BRENDAN PETERSON
CLOSING NIGHT PARTY
After the film, head to Frameline42's Closing Night Party at Oasis (298 11th Street at Folsom Street) to indulge in tasty creations and smooth cocktails as we announce the winners of the AT&T Audience Awards and the First Feature Award, proudly underwritten by Wells Fargo. Then enjoy a live performance by legendary SF drag impresario Heklina.
- Premiere Status: Bay Area