Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, June 23, 2017


Vito Russo
VITO (2011). Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz.

This superb documentary looks at the life, activism and career of Vito Russo [1946 - 1990], who fought for gay rights for years and also wrote the book The Celluloid Closet, which looked at gay images in films. Vito also worked for the AIDS organization, ACT UP, and co-founded GLAAD, the organization that monitors LGBT images in the media. The film also looks into Vito's personal life, his relationships with his family,and his boyfriend, Jeffrey Sevcik, who died of AIDS,

Vito watched the action the night of the Stonewall riots, but just thought "it was a bunch of crazy queens." He didn't become political until sometime later, but he never suffered from Catholic guilt over his homosexuality nor thought there was anything wrong in being gay. Vito eventually got his own cable TV show, and became friends with Lily Tomlin, and was instrumental in getting her to appear at a Gay Pride rally. Tomlin and various activists, friends and relatives are all interviewed, and there are loads of clips of Vito himself, who seems like an intelligent and sensitive man.

Although I chaired the media committee of the Gay Activists Alliance for several years (in a later period) I did not get to work with Vito, although I met him, and it's a shame we never had a chance to become good friends or co-workers as our interests certainly coincided.

Verdict: Moving, beautifully-done portrait of a gay activist who deserves to be remembered, ****.


angelman66 said...

Bill, I was not aware of your activist work--on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community, THANK YOU!

Vito is on my list watch this week,it is playing on Here TV this month. I am a huge, huge fan of his Celluloid Closet book and the film that was made of it years later.


William said...

While some of the LGBT movies I review this week are depressing, and "Vito" certainly has its sad aspects, it is a joy to watch.

And thank you,. Chris. I am very proud of my work for the movement.