The Celluloid Closet
The Celluloid Closet is a documentary film directed and written by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. The film is based on the 1981 (revised 1987) book of the same name written by Vito Russo, and on previous lecture and film clip presentations given in person by Russo 1972-82.
Russo researched the history of how motion pictures, especially Hollywood films, had portrayed gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters. It was given a limited release in select theaters, including the Castro Theater 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.
Watch The Celluloid Closet full documentary online