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Some highlights from the 25th Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
The necessity for — and the rich possiblities of — a gay and lesbian film festival might easily be grasped by viewing Vito, the documentary by Jeffrey Schwarz about Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet, the acclaimed study of homosexuality in classic Hollywood films. Vito, showing June 7, 7:30 p.m., is a fascinating and moving film depicting Russo's life, including his activism for gay rights in the '70s, for AIDS research in the '80s, and even, c. 1981, for less conspicuous consumerism and more caring and brotherhood in the gay community. The segment of the film depicting Russo's extensive work on movies shows many clips from films pre-Hollywood Code and during the Code (early '30s to mid-'60s). It's enlightening to see pre-Code films depicting gay characters without stigma, though with certain stereotypes, only to find that, during the Code, all references to such matters are veiled or symbolic, often with an overlay of Freudianism or, worse, a sensationalist sense of menace and monstrosity. A collection of films such as those gathered in the 25th Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival would probably have made Russo, a very articulate and clear-eyed commentator, weep with joy.
By Donald Brown
May 30, 2012