“I think it’s a piece of social history that is often mistaken for a story about nightclubs and disco” says director Matt Tyrnauer of the subject of his new documentary, Studio 54, which played Sundance this week. “there’s actually a whole other story—maybe many other stories. Starting to excavate through all of the material, in researching the film, there was a sense that this is really the story about the end of the 20th Century.”
His doc captures the famed Studio 54 during its less-than-three-year tenure in New York, at a moment in which—post-birth control, pre-AIDs crisis—sexual liberation was at its zenith, and Studio 54 provided the optimum venue for its expression. Ian Schrager, one of the co-founders of the venue alongside Steve Rubell, speaks at length about the whirlwind few years in which he and his front-and-center colleague went from being the kings of the New York scene to being indicted for skimming $2.5 million from the club’s books. In the film, the now-prominent hotelier explains it’s the first time since the events that he’s ever talked about Studio 54 in any detail.
There’s a wealth of footage and photographs in the doc, painting a picture of a well-documented moment in history. But, as producer Corey Reeser told me, much of it had never seen the light of day. “We were very lucky to find about four hours or so of never-before-seen 16 millimeter film,” he said. “Some NYU film students gained special access to shoot it over the course of a couple weeks. And then a lot of the photographs had never been seen either, from secret archives.”
Check out more in the video above.
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