Kiki DVD Review

  • Director: Sara Jordenö
  • Disc Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 22, 2017
  • Run Time: 94 minutes

        In 1990, the documentary Paris is Burning chronicled New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, while examining the significance and success of the balls and the voguing dance style that dominated them. But more than just a film about the LGTB art culture, Paris is Burning was a film that examined the struggle of those perceived as different, adding the struggle of being a racial minority to the judgment about their gender and sexual identities. Paris is Burning was such an important film that Kiki automatically fights an uphill battle of relevance. Choosing the exact same topic and themes, Kiki is a follow-up film that doesn’t dig as deep or add much new to the topic. It is still significant, but somehow feels less important.

        The Kiki community and culture is made up of a diverse group of young contributors, all of which see the balls as a place where they can truly express themselves. In order to show this, filmmaker Sara Jordenö spends a great deal of the film introducing us to individuals, rather than focusing on the actual balls or competitions within them. While this does make for a more intimate approach, it also gives the film a structure that feels more scattered than focused. While we get to know several individuals on a more personal level, the film has no central character or event to ground it, so that it feels more like a series of snapshots. If immersion into the Kiki community is the only goal, the documentary achieves it, though with only a fraction of the impact that Paris is Burning had so many years ago.

        Jordenö’s film is most successful at capturing the essence of the Kiki community when actually filming the events or gathering. When they are dressing in the elaborate costumes or voguing, Kiki is a far more compelling film than the countless scenes of the participants discussing their social activism and/or feelings of disenfranchisement. Not that this is not important to their story, but it dominates the film in such an unbalanced way that the title Kiki occasionally feels like false advertising. Even when the individuals are compelling in their sometimes contradictory personality traits, the varied footage tends to feel more scattered than enlightened.

        The special features for the Kiki DVD include a trailer for the film, along with a music video that almost has more of the iconic elements of the art scene than the film itself.

Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance:  4/10
Special Features: 2.5/10

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