Public Humanities Cinema project 2017
A public film screening and dialog series hosted by Andi Miller, Adjunct Professor at Randolph College and Executive Director of the Lynchburg Diversity Center.
The Celluloid Closet
is a 1995 American documentary film directed and written by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. The film is based on Vito Russo’s book of the same name first published in 1981 and on lecture and film clip presentations he gave in 1972–82. Russo had researched the history of how motion pictures, especially Hollywood films, had portrayed gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters.
The film was given a limited release in select theatres, including the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, in April 1996, and then shown on cable channel HBO.
The documentary interviews various men and women connected to the Hollywood industry to comment on various film clips and their own personal experiences with the treatment of LGBT characters in film. From the sissy characters, to the censorship of the Hollywood Production Code, the coded gay characters and cruel stereotypes to the changes made in the early 1990s.
Vito Russo wanted his book to be transformed into a documentary film and helped out on the project until he died in 1990. Some critics of the documentary noted that it was less political than the book and ended on a more positive note. However, Russo had wanted the documentary to be entertaining and to reflect the positive changes that had occurred up to 1990.
The film was honored with four Emmy Award nominations in 1996. It was nominated for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Informational Programming for editing, sound recording and director of photography. It was also nominated for Outstanding Informational special. Additionally, the film received both a Peabody Award and recognition at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival by winning the Freedom of Expression award.
A public discussion and open dialog on the LGBT culture of the 1990s and in cinema will follow, lead by Dr. Danielle M. Currier.
Randolph College sociology professor.
Sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities