In honor of LGBTQ History Month, CHS is teaming up with the GLBT Historical Society, film director Stu Maddox, and producer Joseph Applebaum to tell the history of queer home movies and the struggle to preserve them. We are excited to help present screenings of the 2015 documentary Reel in the Closet, every Thursday during the month of October. After each film, a discussion will be held with a panel of LGBTQ activists and historians. The panel members will change from week to week and will include discussions with filmmaker and director Stu Maddux, GLBT Historical Society archivist Isaac Fellman, photographer and LGBT activist Daniel Nicoletta, special collections curator at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Lynne Kirste, and California Historical Society librarian Al Bersch.
Reel in the Closet is a film documenting the search to identify and preserve rare home movies of LGBTQ people dating back to the 1930s. Containing rare footage drawn largely from the archives of the GLBT Historical Society as well as from a number of other collections, the film depicts the personal moments and everyday lives of ordinary queer people in earlier decades.
These incredibly special films document queer lives and community from within, in a way that corporate cinema never could. As analog home movie technologies become more and more obsolete, histories such as those presented in Reel in the Closet are at risk of being lost to dusty basements, or discarded by unknowing or homophobic family members. The film makes the case for taking action now to seek out and preserve this valuable documentation of queer life.