The Celluloid Closet

“Hollywood, that great maker of myths, taught straight people what to think about gays and gay people what to think about themselves,” says Lily Tomlin and no one could have possibly put it better when it comes to how cinema mirrored society’s views on homosexuality, from the very first celluloid reels all the way to the last few guilt-free decades. The irrepressible comedienne is one of dozens of artists and actors (from Tony Curtis to Shirley MacLaine, Gore Vidal and Whoopi Goldberg) who share their own experiences of how LGBT characters were portrayed in mainstream Hollywood cinema. Through thrilling interviews, saucy backstage anecdotes and eloquent movie clips, “The Celluloid Closet” looks back on this long trajectory, from screaming queens and evil masterminds to the countless inspired ways writers and directors camouflaged sexual innuendo, even in the darkest years of censorship. Based on Vito Russo’s popular book, the classic documentary by Oscar winners Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein (“The Times of Harvey Milk”, “Paragraph 175”) combines historical research and acidic humor in order to reveal how Hollywood came out of the closet.