Robert Epstein

Active - 1978 - 2018  |   Genres - Culture & Society, History, Drama, Film, TV & Radio

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From the beginning of his career, multi-award-winning writer/director/producer Robert Epstein sought to explore issues of homosexuality onscreen, often though not always in a documentary context. He entered production at the age of 19, upon answering a newspaper ad looking for a director to contribute to the nonfiction film Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives. The finished product created a patchwork testimonial of gay life designed to shatter common stereotypes and marked an impressive debut. But it was a follow-up effort, 1983's hugely successful The Times of Harvey Milk, that put Epstein on the map as one of the chief voices of LGBT cinema. This reverent ode to the titular gay city supervisor and assassination victim won an Academy Award for Best Documentary and a plethora of other honors and screened at festivals and in mainstream theaters. A follow-up, 1995's The Celluloid Closet, emerged under the directorial aegis of Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and took almost nine years to finance, produce, and release; begun in 1986, it ultimately saw the light of day and snagged a theatrical release thanks to the brass at HBO, Channel Four, and ZDF-Arte. As narrated by Lily Tomlin, this star-studded film offered one of the first serious, in-depth explorations of Hollywood's onscreen treatment of homosexuality. Epstein moved into fiction film by scripting and producing 2010's Howl, a dramatization of the 1957 obscenity trial surrounding beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

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