Roland Emmerich's 'Stonewall' Film Set for US Release in September
by Alex Billington
July 21, 2015
Get ready for the riots. Before Roland Emmerich brings us the new Independence Day: Resurgence sequel, the director will be releasing his indie drama about the 1969 Stonewall riots. Emmerich already shot the film, mostly around Montreal, and it's ready for release this September. Roadside Attractions announced a September 25th release date for Stonewall, starring Jeremy Irvine and newcomer Jonny Beauchamp, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ron Perlman. Stonewall is a drama about a fictional young man caught up during the 1969 Stonewall riots, "which became the start of the LGBT rights movement." More info below.
Here's a quote in the press release that covers background on the Stonewall riots and Emmerich's interest:
Emmerich, who also produced the film, says, "I was always interested and passionate about telling this important story, but I feel it has never been more timely than right now." Less than 50 years ago, in 1969, being gay was considered a mental illness; gay people could not be employed by the government; it was illegal for gay people to congregate, and police brutality against gays went unchecked. Today, thanks to the events set in motion by the Stonewall riots, the gay rights movement continues to make incredible strides towards equality. In the past several weeks alone, the Boy Scouts of America has moved to lift its ban on gay leaders, the Pentagon will allow transgender people to serve openly in the military, and SCOTUS has declared that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide in all 50 states.
"It was the first time gay people said 'Enough!'" explains Emmerich. "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."
“What struck me was that there was a story in there, which I felt had an important message – it’s the people who had the least to lose who did the fighting, not the politically active people. It was the kids that went to this club that consisted of hustlers and Scare Queens, and all kinds of people that you think would never resist the police, and they did it." And the events they set in motion would have a profound impact on the future.
Similar to when he made Anonymous, Roland Emmerich quietly directed this before going on to start work on Independence Day. The script is by Jon Robin Baitz. To make the film feel authentic, Emmerich and his production team re-created "the village" from Manhattan circa 1969 in a former train repair facility in Montreal. "The elaborate set included the detailed, authentic recreation of the interior and exterior of the Stonewall Inn and the entire Christopher Street neighborhood. It also featured the largest printed backdrop ever created which added in the final element of the skyline for both daytime and nighttime shots. During the filming of the riot scenes with over 500 extras in period costumes and the detailed recreation of the neighborhood, stepping onto the set was like taking a time machine back to New York City in the late 60's."
We'll keep watch for the trailer. The film has yet to show at any film festivals. It sounds like Emmerich put a lot of attention to detail in making sure this was a passionate and authentic look at the Stonewall riots. For that reason alone I'm very curious to check this out. The film stars Jeremy Irvine (War Horse), Jonny Beauchamp ("Penny Dreadful"), Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class), Joey King (White House Down) up-and-comers Karl Glusman, Vlademir Alexis, and Alexandre Nachi as well as veteran actor Matt Craven, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Match Point, "The Tudors") and Ron Perlman (Hellboy).