MARLON RIGGS (1957-1994)
DOCUMENTARY FILM MAKER
Marlon Riggs was an Army Brat who attended Nurnberg HS 1972-73 & Ansbach HS 1973-74
Marlon Riggs was known for making insightful and controversial documentary films confronting racism and homophobia that thrust him onto center stage in America’s “cultural wars.”
Riggs’ first major work, Ethnic Notions (58 min, 1987), traced the evolution of the racial stereotypes which have implanted themselves deep into the American psyche across 150 years of U.S. history. The documentary received a National Emmy Award and other top film festival honors and has become a core audio-visual “text” in a wide range of courses.
Marlon’s second major work, Tongues Untied (58 min, 1989), a moving, highly personal, sometimes angry, always poignant documentary was the first frank discussion of the black, gay experience on television. Though acclaimed by critics and awarded Best Documentary at Berlin and other film festivals, its broadcast by the PBS series P.O.V. was immediately pounced upon by the Religious Right as a symbol of everything wrong with public funding for art and culture, particularly culture outside the mainstream political debate.”
Marlon’s own next major work, Color Adjustment (86 min, 1991), traced over 40 years of the representations of African Americans through the distorting prism of prime time television, from Amos ‘n’ Andy to Cosby. Color Adjustment garnered television’s highest accolade, the George Foster Peabody Award, among other awards. That same year the American Film Institute granted Riggs their Maya Daren Lifetime Achievement Award.
Marlon Riggs died of AIDS in 1994.