A documentary on the life of gay rights
activist Vito Russo debuts Monday on pay cabler HBO.
VITO had its world premiere at
the 2011 New York Film Festival and opened the 2012 Oufest Film
Festival in Los Angeles earlier this month.
The film from award-winning director
Jeffrey Schwarz (Wrangler:
Anatomy of an Icon) uses period footage and interviews with
Russo to paint a touching portrait of Russo, one of the nation's most
outspoken and inspiring gay rights activists.
Appearing on MSNBC, Schwarz said he
made VITO to “reinvigorate his memory and introduce him to
the next generation of gay and lesbian kids who are just coming out
now who might not have heard of him.”
“In telling Vito's story, it was also
an opportunity to tell the story of the gay and lesbian civil rights
movement from the dark days before Stonewall to all the way through
the AIDS crisis,” he
Russo was an early member of the Gay
Activists Alliance (GAA), a co-founder of the Gay & Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and a co-founder of the AIDS
Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP).
Featured in the film are gay rights
activists Larry Kramer and Arthur Evans; film scholar Jon Gartenberg;
and writers Michael Schiavi and Gabriel Rotello. VITO also
offers personal accounts from friends Lily Tomlin and Bruce Vilanch.
(A trailer for the film is embedded in the right panel of this page.
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