It’s the most-written about, intensely-debated and by most standards considered the event which became a catalyst for the modern LGBT rights movement, but for out filmmaker Roland Emmerich the Stonewall riots of 1969 provide the backdrop for his latest drama. Best-known for helming apocalyptic fantasies such as The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day, Emmerich, says he “was always interested and passionate about telling this important story, but I feel it has never been more timely than right now.”
Since New York’s Greenwich Village has changed considerably in the four-plus decades since queer people fought back against police brutality, Emmerich’s film was shot on elaborately-detailed sound stages in Montreal. With a screenplay by Jon Robin Baitz, known for many acclaimed plays and TV series such as Brothers and Sisters, the movie titled simply Stonewall chronicles:
a fictional young man caught up during the 1969 Stonewall riots. Danny Winters (Jeremy Irvine) is forced to leave behind friends and loved ones when he is kicked out of his parent’s home and flees to New York. Alone in Greenwich Village, homeless and destitute, he befriends a group of street kids who soon introduce him to the local watering hole The Stonewall Inn; however, this shady, mafia-run club is far from a safe-haven. As Danny and his friends experience discrimination, endure atrocities and are repeatedly harassed by the police, we see a rage begin to build. This emotion runs through Danny and the entire community of young gays, lesbians and drag queens who populate the Stonewall Inn and erupts in a storm of anger. With the toss of a single brick, a riot ensues and a crusade for equality is born.
The movie, which will be in theaters September 25, also stars Jonny Beauchamp, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ron Perlman. Emmerich released a statement that details his passion for the subject matter:
“It was the first time gay people said ‘Enough!’ They didn’t do it with leaflets or meetings, they took beer bottles and threw them at cops. Many pivotal political moments have been born by violence. If you look at the civil rights movement, at Selma and other events of that kind, it’s always the same thing. Stonewall was the first time gay people stood up and they did it in their own way. Something that really affected me when I read about Stonewall was that when the riot police showed up in their long line, these kids formed their own long line and sang a raunchy song. That, for me, was a gay riot, a gay rebellion.”
Scroll down to see a few more photos from the film. Although these stills suggest otherwise, Stonewall is not a musical.