Primarily known as the Disaster Movie King, filmmaker Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow) is branching out with the decidedly smaller-scale gay rights period drama Stonewall. The film, being distributed by Roadside Attractions, has officially cemented an awards season release date of September 25, 2015, it was announced today. The release date seems to imply that will coincide with a premiere at fall film festival like Telluride or Toronto.
Emmerich directs from a script by screenwriter/playwright Jon Robin Baitz (People I Know), centering around the events leading up to the historic Stonewall Riots that took place in New York City on June 28, 1969, in which protests raged following a police raid of the gay populated Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. The riots lit the fuse for the gay rights movement. Stonewall stars Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) as a young man coming to terms with his sexuality and coming of age against this backdrop. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Match Point), Joey King (White House Down), Karl Glusman (Love), and Ron Perlman (Drive) co-star.
In a statement Emmerich wrote,
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. 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.
While Stonewall would appear to be a departure for Emmerich – a filmmaker known for directing glossy action films like Independence Day (1996), 2012 (2009), 10,000 BC (2008), and the upcoming Independence Day 2 – the German-born filmmaker (who is openly gay) has from time to time broken free from the disaster movie mold. He also directed the historical drama The Patriot (2000) starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger, as well as the 2011 Shakespearean-soaked mystery Anonymous.
Stonewall will hit theaters on September 25, 2015.