The story of Vito Russo, founding father of the gay liberation movement, author of "The Celluloid Closet," and vociferous AIDS activist in the 1980s.


Jeffrey Schwarz
5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Phyllis Antonellis Phyllis Antonellis ... Self - Cousin
George Bancroft ... Bill Bailey
Richard Barrios Richard Barrios ... Self
Edmund Bergler Edmund Bergler ... Self - Psychoanalyst, Writer (archive footage) (as Edmund Bergler M.D.)
Richard Berkowitz Richard Berkowitz ... Self - Author
Lenny Bloom Lenny Bloom ... Self - Friend & Lawyer (as Leonard Bloom)
Jay Blotcher Jay Blotcher ... Self
Malcolm Boyd Malcolm Boyd ... Self (as Reverend Malcolm Boyd)
Stephen Boyd ... Messala
Joseph Brewer Joseph Brewer ... Self
Lee Brewster Lee Brewster ... Self - Queens Liberation Front (archive footage)
Tom Brokaw ... Self (archive footage)
Billie Burke ... Glinda
Marcus A. Conant Marcus A. Conant ... Self (archive footage)
Jane Darwell ... Mrs. Winchell - Jack's Mother


In the aftermath of Stonewall, a newly politicized Vito Russo found his voice as a gay activist and critic of LGBT representation in the media. He went on to write "The Celluloid Closet," the first book to critique Hollywood's portrayals of gays on screen. During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, Vito became a passionate advocate for justice via the newly formed ACT UP, before his death in 1990. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Jede Revolution Braucht Eine Stimme! (German) See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


David Ehrenstein is listed two different ways on screen, first as "Member, Gay Activists Alliance," and second as "Film Critic." See more »


Features Ben-Hur (1959) See more »


Written by Buzzy Linhart and Mark Klingman
Performed by Bette Midler
See more »

User Reviews

The history of being gay in America in the '60s -'80s
12 February 2018 | by bettycjungSee all my reviews

2/12/18. Vito Russo was the film historian who wrote the "Celluloid Closet." While this film is supposed to be a biopic about Vito, the outspoken gay activist and founding father of the gay liberation movement, it is really about being gay in America. It covers the rise of the gay lifestyle in the '60s (lots of anonymous unprotected sex), its struggle to outlive the growing AIDs epidemic in the '70s (from all the unprotected sex) and its quest for acceptance and civil rights in the '80s. Gay men who knew him spoke more about what it was like being gay than about their relationship with Vito. All in all you will develop a better understanding of what it's like to be gay, before the reality of HIV/AIDS, during those decades and the issues they were grappling with. Good documentary worth seeing.

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Release Date:

14 October 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Na gej heroj - Vito See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Color | Black and White (film excerpts)
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