Riggs was born in Fort Worth, Texas on February 3, 1957. He was a child of civilian employees of the military and spent a great deal of his childhood traveling. He lived in Texas and Georgia before moving to West Germany at age 11 with his family. Later in his life, Riggs remembered the ostracism and name-calling that he experienced at Hephzibah Junior High School in Hephzibah, Georgia. He stated that black and white students alike called him a “punk," a “faggot,” and “Uncle Tom.” He explains that he felt isolated from everyone at the school: “I was caught between these two worlds where the whites hated me and the blacks disparaged me. It was so painful.”
From 1973 to 1974 Riggs attended Ansbach American High School's opening year in Katterbach, Germany. He was elected student body president at the military dependents school. In 1974, Riggs returned to the United States to attend college. As an undergraduate, Riggs studied history at Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude in 1978. As Riggs began studying the history of American racism and homophobia, he became interested in communicating his ideas about these subjects through film.
After working for a local television station in Texas for about a year, he moved to Oakland, California, where he entered graduate school. He received his master's degree in journalism with a specialization in Documentary film in 1981 from the University of California, Berkeley, having co-produced/co-directed with Peter Webster a master's thesis titled Long Train Running: The Story of the Oakland Blues, a half-hour video on the history of the blues in Oakland, California.
Soon after arriving in California for graduate school at UC Berkeley, Riggs settled in Oakland. For 15 years, he made his home with his life companion Jack Vincent. His parents Jean and Alvin Riggs and his sister Sascha live in Arlington, Virginia.
Riggs's documentaries have received much critical acclaim. Riggs received a National Emmy Award in 1987. Tongues Untied was awarded Best Documentary at the Berlin Film Festival. The film also received recognition from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Documentary Film Festival, the American Film and Video Festival, and the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. In 1992, Riggs was awarded the Maya Daren Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Additionally, Color Adjustment won the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians, the International Documentary Association Outstanding Achievement Award, and a premier screening the Sundance Film Festival. Riggs also received the Frameline Award from the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival for his film Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (No Regret). Moreover, Black is. . . Black Ain't won the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival and was praised by the Sundance Film Festival.
Tongues Untied Starring Marlon Riggs
Actors: Marlon Riggs
Directors: Marlon Riggs
Studio: Strand Releasing
DVD Release Date: March 18, 2008
Run Time: 55 minutes
Amazon Kindle: Tongues Untied
Marlon Riggs`s portrayal of homophobia and racism caused controversy during Tongues Untied`s original 1991 airing on PBS`s P.O.V. series and contributed to the national debate about the National Endowment for the Arts funding for art with nudity, gay themes, and pointed political commentary.
Riggs`s stories are fierce examples of homophobia and racism: the man refused entry to a gay bar because of his color; the college student left bleeding on the sidewalk after a gay-bashing; the loneliness and isolation of the drag queen. The stories also affirm the black gay male experience: protest marches, smoky bars, snap divas, humorous musicology, and vogue dancing.
Special Features:: · A 1991 interview with Director Marlon T. Riggs
· Interviews with Issac Julien, Filmmaker; Phill Wilson, AIDS Activist; Juba Kalamka, Spoken Word and Rap Artist; Herman Gray, Cultural Critic
· Seven minutes of Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
· Closed captioning for the hearing impaired
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