An eclectic ensemble of queer performers, including drag icon Lady Bunny and Pose’s Danielle Cooper, star in this experimental documentary-narrative hybrid celebration of the Playland Café.
Combining music, dance, archival footage, tableaux, opera and performance art, artist-filmmaker Georden West’s debut is an expressionist and very queer collage, focusing on a temporal night in Boston’s oldest gay bar. Following the staff and patrons that haunt the space, it weaves together a tapestry of personal and community anecdotes from across the renowned venue’s existence, from 1937 until “urban renewal” saw it close in 1998. An uncanny and inventive film that boldly transcends physical space, it reminds us that though certain pioneering queer spaces may be gone, their memories cannot be erased.
Content warning: contains discussions of homophobic violence.
“The spell Playland casts over its subject matter, and an act of poetic reanimation, carries over to its viewers.” – Film Inquiry
“An energetic portrait of the Playland Café … (and) a tribute to these ghosts and the living queers most deliciously possessed.” – Autostraddle