Monday, May 14, 2012

Director Jeffrey Schwarz Revives Vito Russo

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Jeffrey Schwarz, Producer / Director of the new must-see HBO documentary VITO. Vito Russo was a founding member of three pivotal gay rights groups starting with the Gay Activists Alliance in the early 1970s. Russo was also a key voice in the creation of both Act Up the AIDS activist group credited with revolutionizing the federal approval process for new drugs and the influential media watchdog the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The Vito Russo Award is named in his memory at the GLAAD Media Awards each year and is presented to an openly gay or lesbian member of the media community for their outstanding contribution in combating homophobia. Russo also wrote the groundbreaking book The Celluloid Closet in 1981 that was later turned into the documentary of the same name that brought attention to how our LGBT community had been censored and depicted in unacceptable cruel stereotypes since the beginning of film. Vito Russo died way too early of AIDS in 1990 at the age 44.

When asked what his commitment is to LGBT civil rights, Schwarz stated, “Well Vito was inspiring to me because his main issue was visibility and being out and showing the world who we are. I think the number one thing that you can do for the gay and lesbian civil rights struggle is to be out because if you’re out they can’t stereotype you and they can’t defame you and that’s always been his issue. Whether it was visibility during the gay liberation movement, encouraging people to come out to their families, to their coworkers and his struggle was also to show gay and lesbian lives on the screen, to make our lives visible in movies, in television and in the media in general… So I think his whole life was about visibility and for me I think that is the number one issue. I think as time goes on history is definitely going to be on our side because as more and more people are out people will know who we are. I mean it’s hard to discriminate against someone who’s standing right next to you and saying this is a gay person, this is a lesbian standing right next to you.”

VITO is an important documentary that everyone in the LGBT and the heterosexual community should see. It’s currently playing the film festival circuit and will premiere on HBO in July of 2012.
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