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Youth In Motion: Vito

November 18, 2014

Frameline announces Vito Russo documentary as latest release for nationwide educational film program, Youth In Motion


SAN FRANCISCO – Frameline, the San Francisco-based LGBTQ media arts non-profit organization, has announced that VITO, an HBO documentary about LGBTQ activist Vito Russo, is the latest film release for Frameline’s educational film program, Youth In Motion. Youth In Motion provides free LGBTQ educational films and curriculum guides to Gay-Straight Alliances nationwide.

The upcoming Youth In Motion release, entitled Visibility Through Activism: The Legacy of Vito Russo, is scheduled for January 2015, when the program will deliver DVDs and curriculum guides to all of its participating schools. There are currently 681 schools across 39 states registered for the Youth in Motion program.

Frameline’s 2014-2015 Youth In Motion collection is presented in collaboration with First Run Features, GLAAD, GSA Network, and Planned Parenthood.

Frameline’s Youth In Motion program has provided free LGBTQ themed films, with accompanying curricula and action guides, to educators and gay-straight alliances in middle and high schools since 2008. Youth In Motion provides student activists and teachers with interactive tools to educate their peers about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer history and culture.

Frameline has announced a goal for Youth In Motion to reach 1,000 schools in all 50 states by June 2015.

Frameline’s Youth in Motion release of VITO features professionally developed curriculum for use in Gay-Straight Alliance meetings, as well as integration into classrooms for instruction in U.S. history, government and civics courses, media studies, and health. An accompanying Action Guide for Gay-Straight Alliances includes resources for LGBTQ students and allies to apply Russo's activist techniques to civil rights issues today, to host their own LGBTQ film festivals, and to produce their own media, inspired by Russo's 1983 New York public access show, Our Time.

VITO, directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, executive produced by HBO’s Sheila Nevins and distributed by HBO, The Film Collaborative, and First Run Features, was selected as the Opening Night film of Frameline36: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, in June 2012. Frameline hosts the world’s first and largest LGBT film festival, and presents the Frameline Award to honor a person or entity that has made a major contribution to LGBT representation in film, television, or the media arts. In 1986, Vito Russo received the inaugural Frameline Award.

“Vito Russo participated in every significant milestone in the gay liberation movement, and his story is the story of our community. As an activist, Vito knew that the key to acceptance was visibility and championed sympathetic and realistic depictions of our lives,” said Jeffrey Schwarz, director of the documentary Vito.

Schwarz continued, “Thanks to the Youth in Motion program, a new generation will learn about one of the founding fathers of the LGBT movement, and how Vito Russo helped make it possible for us to live proudly and openly in the world. Vito's message of standing up, speaking out, and living bravely in the face of adversity can inspire us all to continue the battles that he once fought.”

Frances Wallace, Frameline’s Executive Director said, “Vito Russo is the father of film festivals—and one of the early pioneers to encourage LGBTQ people to find acceptance and support through the interactive experience of watching films created by and for our community. Through Youth In Motion, Frameline strives to bring the unparalleled experience of our yearly Festival to LGBTQ youth and allies across the country.”

Vito Russo was an HIV/AIDS activist, author, and film historian. He is known for authoring The Celluloid Closet, an analysis of the representation of LGBTQ characters in mainstream film. In 1995, The Celluloid Closet was adapted into a documentary by filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

Based on his passion for fair representation of LGBTQ communities in media, Vito Russo cofounded GLAAD (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) in 1985. Today, GLAAD remains the nation’s leading media advocacy organization rewriting the script on LGBT equality.

GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, "Vito Russo recognized the incredible power that media has in shaping how the world sees the LGBT community. By sharing his story in this impactful film, Frameline will help ensure that Vito continues to inspire viewers for generations to come."

As part of the annual GLAAD Media Awards, GLAAD presents the Vito Russo Award to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. GLAAD recently developed “The Vito Russo Test,” a set of criteria to evaluate the representation of LGBT characters in film, which takes inspiration from Alison Bechdel’s “The Bechdel Test” to analyze the inclusion of female characters in film.

Through ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), Vito Russo was on the forefront of AIDS activism in the 1980s. Youth In Motion’s professionally created curriculum examines Russo’s work as part of late twentieth century history, and bridges the gap into conversations about HIV/AIDS today with resources from Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood’s Vice President of Education, Leslie Kantor, describes Russo’s work as “A powerful story about how creating space for honest communication can change culture and grow community, leading to better health outcomes and equal rights.”

“GSA Network is proud to partner with Frameline to ensure youth across the country can learn about the contributions of LGBTQ people and connect to the richness of our history – a history young people are too often denied in textbooks and classrooms,” said Ben Wong, GSA Network’s Interim Executive Director.

Frameline started the Youth In Motion program in 2008. Previously, the Youth In Motion program was available only to schools in California. In January 2014, Frameline nationalized the program, and there are currently 681 participating schools.

Students and educators can register for Youth In Motion on Frameline’s website at frameline.org/youth-in-motion.

Visibility Through Activism: The Legacy of Vito Russo is free for participating schools. New participants are advised to register as soon as possible due to a limited supply of DVDs.

Frameline’s Youth In Motion program is made possible through the generous support of The Bob Ross Foundation and an Anonymous donor.


About Frameline

Frameline’s mission is to change the world through the power of queer cinema. As a media arts non-profit, Frameline’s programs connect filmmakers and audiences in San Francisco and around the world.


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Media Contact:
Alex Chousa
achousa [@] frameline.org
415.703-8650 x317

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