DIRECTOR: Jeffrey Schwarz

Expected guests: Director Jeffrey Schwarz and subject Charlie Russo, brother of Vito Russo

We could think of no better way to begin this year’s Festival than with a film about one of the most influential people in the history of LGBT cinema: Vito Russo. For our 36th Opening Night, Frameline proudly presents Jeffrey Schwarz’s magnificent new documentary about the inexhaustible LGBT activist and film author.

New York-born Russo was in his early twenties when he witnessed firsthand the community response to Stonewall. Throughout his life, Russo had no qualms about confronting others and fighting for justice by organizing rallies; founding groups such as ACT UP; and giving celebrated speeches infused with conviction and charisma.

Always an avid movie lover, Russo took his passion for film and mined through archives all over the world. He then started lecturing on Hollywood’s fear of homosexuality as expressed through LGBT characters found throughout the early history of cinema. Russo created a renowned lecture and film clip presentation that he took to sold out audiences in colleges and theatres—including the Castro and Roxie—all across the country. What resulted next was his groundbreaking book The Celluloid Closet, which would change queer cinema forever.

This moving documentary highlights Russo’s connections to San Francisco and the Bay Area where he spent many of his later years. Here he met his partner Jeffrey Sevcik, taught at Santa Cruz, consulted for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and even helped program some of Frameline’s earlier Festivals. In 1986, Russo was the first recipient of the annual Frameline Award.

Vito gorgeously chronicles this incomparable activist’s work, influence and ideas, which brought about changes we should never take for granted. Join us and many special guests for what promises to be a memorable evening.

This film is a Frameline Completion Fund recipient.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D235

Co-presented by:

GLBT Historical Society

Get the Frameline Festival App

A festival in your pocket

FilmFest is a simple, easy to use pocket guide to all the films in this year's festival.

Frameline36 app available now!