Open Your Eyes: PRIDE 2019 00:00

This film was directed by Julia Jansch, shot by Clair Popkin (Oscar-winning “Free Solo”; Netflix’s “Abstract”), colored by Tom Poole (“iTonya”, “BlacKKKlansman”) Researched by Gaby Caplan and produced by Convicts.

Words by Julia Jansch

I happen to live above the Stone Wall Inn on Sheridan Square in NYC. Every time I cross the road, I notice that under my feet – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple – step-by-step – is a rainbow-colored pedestrian crossing. A crossing over that celebrates Pride. As I wander further with eyes wide open, I look around: New York City confirms to me that Pride really is everywhere.

But I know that this wasn’t always the case. I think about the travesty that occurred 50 years ago at the Stonewall Inn. I remind myself of the lingering and toxic divide between the “accepted” and the “unaccepted.” In many parts of the world, the battle against Shame rages on.  To help fight this good fight, I sought out the words of prolific LGBTQ poet and writer, Vanessa Angelica Villarreal. 

Written by Vanessa and proudly spoken by a true oracle of our time, Nancy Lorenza Green, “Open your Eyes” is a cento, an anthem piece.  At once, it celebrates Pride’s natural, near-tangible presence in 2019 while calling to remembrance those warriors who paved the way to progress. As Vanessa puts it: “I remember watching footage of the 1990 NYC Pride Parade and being struck by the defiance, the volume, the strength of so many voices chanting, we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it, and the chilling power of the moment of silence afterwards. Pride back then was a chorus of resistance, each voice this unique gem, this particular story, that I wanted to capture in this poem. So a cento, or a form made up of lines from other poems, and in this case, also from quotes from other documentaries and activists, felt the most appropriate for this film. The cento form itself is a chorus, a documentary, a documentation, an acknowledgement of those who came before.”