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From award winning director, Robert L. Camina and Executive Producers behind "Back on Board: Greg Louganis", "Kiss Me, Kill Me", "Beautiful Something", "Raid of the Rainbow Lounge" and "Southern Baptist Sissies", comes UPSTAIRS INFERNO, a poignant and powerful documentary chronicling the deadly 1973 New Orleans gay bar arson: an event that remained the Largest Gay Mass Murder in U.S. History for 43 years.
On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to the Up Stairs Lounge, a gay bar located on the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans, LA. The result was the largest gay mass murder in U.S. history. Despite the staggering historical significance, few people know about the tragedy. Thirty-two people were killed and some bodies were never identified. One-third of the New Orleans chapter of the Metropolitan Community Church were killed in the blaze, including two clergy. The primary suspect was never charged with the crime. The tragedy did not stop at the loss of lives. There were also the delayed injuries: lost jobs, fear, public ridicule and severed families. The devastation was compounded by the homophobic reactions and utter lack of concern by the general public, government and religious leaders. The fire permanently altered lives and was the root of many lifelong struggles.
UPSTAIRS INFERNO is the most comprehensive and authoritative film about the fire and its aftermath. However, UPSTAIRS INFERNO isn't simply a stagnant exposition of facts. UPSTAIRS INFERNO brings humanity to the headlines by shining a light on the very painful effect the tragedy had on survivors, witnesses and loved ones. Their interviews have been gut wrenching, yet insightful. Some of the people interviewed in the film haven't publicly discussed the fire until now, especially on camera. Many granted the production exclusive on-camera interviews.
The San Francisco Chronicle named UPSTAIRS INFERNO 1 of 10 BEST BETS for Frameline40, going on to say that it "echoes of Spike Lee’s [Oscar nominated] civil rights film “4 Little Girls”!
Audiences should expect to see a balance between investigative reporting and very intimate profiles of people lost or affected by the tragedy. The victims are more than statistics, more then names in a newspaper clipping or even names on a plaque. These were unfinished lives, tragically cut short by a senseless act. The victims and their families and friends left to cope with the aftermath deserved better treatment than what they got.
This is a gruesome story, there is no way around it. Hopefully, through it all, people walk away with a renewed call for compassion: Compassion for those unlike us. Compassion for those who are hurting. Compassion for those in need. Because they're definitely wasn't a lot of compassion when this tragedy happened. In addition, I hope the film acts as a stark reminder that we need to seize the day. We need to make sure we tell our loved ones every day that we love them, because we don't know what lies ahead. Life is fickle and unpredictable. Today may be our last chance.
CHRISTOPHER RICE (narrator) is a New York Times best selling author. His debut, "A Density of Souls", was an overnight best seller, and was greeted with a landslide of media attention, much of it due to the fact that Christopher is the son of legendary vampire chronicler, Anne Rice. Much of his writing is heavily influenced by the years he and his Mom lived in New Orleans. Rice considers New Orleans his "hometown". Christopher currently co-hosts his own Internet radio show, THE DINNER PARTY SHOW, with fellow New York Times best selling novelist, Eric Shaw Quinn. Rice recently published the novel, "The Vines", which is set in the outskirts of New Orleans.
ROBERT L. CAMINA (director) wrote, directed and produced several short films before premiering his first full length documentary, RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE (2012) to sold out audiences, rave reviews and a media frenzy. RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE recounts the widely publicized and controversial June 28, 2009 police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas gay bar that resulted in multiple arrests and serious injuries. The raid occurred on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid. The film, narrated by TV icon Meredith Baxter, screened during 33 mainstream and LGBT film festivals across the United States, Mexico and Canada. The film won several awards including 5 “Best” Film and 3 “Audience Choice” Awards. The film also received attention from the Office of the White House, Department of Justice and a division of the U.S. State Department. At their invitation, the Library of Congress hosted a screening in 2014.