Upstairs Inferno | Chicago Reader
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Upstairs Inferno

Documentary maker Robert L. Camina chronicles the 1972 arson fire at the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans, which claimed 32 lives and ranked as the largest mass murder of gay people in U.S. history until the Orlando nightclub shooting of June 2016. Using archival footage and photography, as well as extensive interviews with survivors, Camina creates an empathetic portrait (2015) of a tragic event during an era very different from our own—at the time, no civic or religious leader was willing even to eulogize the dead. The faded snapshots of the fallen, intercut with the tearful reminiscences of now-elderly survivors, effectively communicates the feeling of loss that still lingers, no matter how much progress this community and our larger society have made.


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