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The Art of Memoir      March-April 2016

The Activist As Archivist

 

Vito Written and directed by Jeffrey SchwarzVito
Written and directed by Jeffrey Schwarz
HBO Films

 

THIRTY-ONE YEARS AGO, Vito Russo published a groundbreaking study of the history of cinema called The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies. The book would become one of the founding texts in the study of queer representation in the media. And, lest we forget, Russo did that work as a self-educated scholar and film buff in the era before videotape. As we learn from Vito, Jeffrey Schwarz’ important and moving documentary, Russo worked in the film archive at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the mid-1970’s. In that archive, he found one part of his life’s work.

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