Jeffrey Schwarz, Lotti Pharriss, HBO, VITO
Check out a video interview with the fimmakers of HBO's VITO documentary, Jeffrey Schwarz and Lotti Pharriss, as featured on The Lip. TV's BYOD (Bring Your Own Doc) show! BYOD is hosted by Sundance award winning doc-maker Ondi Timoner (Dig!, Join Us, We Live in Public) and EP and entertainment attorney Vlad Radovanov's (We Live in Public). Watch below!
On June 27, 1969, a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar, took a surprising turn when patrons decided it was time to fight back. As a riot erupted in Greenwich Village, a new era in the gay rights movement was born. Among the crowd that day was 23-year-old film student Vito Russo. In the aftermath of the infamous rebellion, a raid on an after-hours bar he frequented ended with a young gay man impaling himself on a fence while trying to escape the police.
This is when Vito found his voice as a gay activist and critic of homosexual representation in the media. Over the next 20 years, until his death from AIDS in 1990, Vito Russo was one of the most outspoken and inspiring activists in the LGBT community's fight for equal rights.
Recounting the life of one of the founding fathers of the gay liberation movement, the inspiring documentary VITO debuted on HBO on July 23 and plays again July 29, and 31 and August 4 and 8.
Directed by award-winner Jeffrey Schwarz ("Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story," "Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon"), VITO paints a touching portrait of this outspoken activist in the LGBT community's struggle for equal rights, using period footage and film clips to capture a vibrant era of gayculture.
The documentary features rich archival interviews with Vito, as well as insights from gay rights activists, including: Larry Kramer and Arthur Evans; film scholars, among them former MoMA film curator Jon Gartenberg; and journalists/writers such as Michael Schiavi and Gabriel Rotello. VITO also offers personal accounts from his many friends, including Lily Tomlin and Bruce Vilanch, and his family members, including brother CharlesRusso and cousin Phyllis Antonellis.
VITO had its world premiere at the 2011 New York Film Festival and has screened at numerous film festivals across the country, opening the 2012 Frameline Film Festival at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, the same place Vito met Jeffrey more than 30 years ago when he performed "The Celluloid Closet." VITO will also be the opening night selection at the 2012 Outfest Film Festival in Los Angeles on July 12.
Director and producer Jeffrey Schwarz won a 2007 AFI Fest Documentary Audience Award for "Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story," about the Hollywood showman. He is currently in production on "I Am Divine," an independent feature documentary about John Waters' muse.