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Leave It on the Floor
Canada/U.S.A. 2011

Opening 18 Oct 2012

Directed by: Sheldon Larry
Writing credits: Glenn Gaylord
Principal actors: Ephraim Sykes, Andre Myers, Phillip Evelyn, Barbie Q, Cameron Koa

This film, which showed at the 2012 Berlinale Film Festival, is a colorful fictional remake of the classic documentary Paris is Burning from 1991 (which won the Teddy Award in that year’s Berlinale). Director Sheldon Larry moved the location of this feature film from New York City to Los Angeles. African-American Brad (Ephraim Sykes), age 22, is gay, a “condition” which his mother refuses to accept. Thrown out of the house, he moves into the House of Eminence, where there are others like him, i.e., homosexual and homeless. The residents care for each other, overseen by a “dorm mother” Queef Latina (Miss Barbie-Q). In their free time they rehearse in order to compete in wildly exotic drag-queen fashion shows with music and gorgeous people strutting down the ramp dressed as everything from royalty to girl scouts to muscle men to Whitney Houston.

Director Sheldon worked with script writer Glenn Gaylord to present the fictionalized version of a real event: the underground ball culture, organized by “ball communities.” These competitions are fierce and bring recognition to the house which wins. In Leave it on the Floor Brad represents his House of Eminence. In a discussion with the Berlinale audience after the showing, several men talked about other houses they knew in NYC, such as House of Garçon. They said that these houses are heavily African-American in Los Angeles, but more Caucasian and Hispanic in New York. They are a “gay family reinvention, safe and supportive.” The story of Leave it on the Floor is not so important; it is the individual actors, such as Philipp Evelyn II (who plays an elegant Princess Eminence and came to Berlin for the showing), the costumes, and the music which carry the film. Glenn Gaylord also wrote lyrics for 12 of the 22 songs, assisted by Kimberly Burse (who is also the music director for Beyonce). (Becky Tan)

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