March 18 – 29
At Tower City
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Run Time: 93 minutes
The moment he discovered the drag scene as a high school student, Vito Russo knew he'd found kindred spirits. He went on to dedicate his life to gay rights. As a student in 1960s New York, Vito couldn't understand why people didn't protest the raids on gay establishments. Then Stonewall happened, and nothing stayed the same. Vito was a founding member of the Gay Activists Alliance, whose forte was street activism. A movie-obsessed gay journalist and a charmingly extraverted personality, Vito got Bette Midler to perform at baths and found an ally in comedian Lily Tomlin. His influential book The Celluloid Closet came out in 1973; he hosted one of the first gay TV shows; he cofounded both the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and ACT UP, which protested the exorbitant prices companies charged for life-saving AIDS drugs. But even Vito's astonishing vitality was no match for the horrible disease, and he died of AIDS-related complications in 1990. VITO is an engrossing film about a compassionate and impassioned soul. –B.B.
Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky, Laurent Zeitoun, Yann Zenou
Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano
François Cluzet, Omar Sy
Jeffrey Schwarz was born in 1969 in New York and is a graduate of the SUNY Purchase Film Department. He is President and CEO of Automat Pictures, a Los Angeles-based entertainment company specializing in the production of studio electronic press kits, DVD content, original TV programming, and feature films.
"Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story" (2007) - 32nd CIFF, "Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon" (2008), VITO (2011)