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Professor Reaches Sundance with Gay Activist Portrait

By Bendik Sorensen
Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

Jean Carlomusto, professor of Media Arts and director of the Television Center, has received positive reviews for her film, “Larry Kramer in Love and Anger.” The film, which Carlomusto directed, had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah on Jan 23. “The film is an intimate portrait of a fiery activist. He’s known to many as the angriest man alive,” Carlomusto said of the film’s main character.

Professor Jean Carlomusto pictured with her Media Arts students. Photo by Ipshita Kaul
Professor Jean Carlomusto pictured with her Media Arts students.
Photo by Ipshita Kaul

Larry Kramer is an author, screenwriter, health advocate, AIDS, and gay rights activist. “He opened people’s eyes to AIDS. In the ‘80s, a lot of gays and lesbians were still in the closet, and they were still subject to discrimination. Larry managed to get people off their butts and onto the streets – mainly by yelling and badgering,” Carlomusto said. “But that’s what they needed.” Kramer started ACT UP: AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, and was a loud, notable spokesperson for AIDS and gay rights.

“He’s had a long career,” Carlomusto said of Kramer. “He started in the movie business and was nominated for an academy award for “Women in Love,” which was a big movie in the ‘70s.” His most recent work on screen was “The Normal Heart,” an HBO movie starring Mark Ruffalo and Jim Parsons, among others. “He’s also a noted author, with a number one book, “Faggots,” a portrait of the NYC gay community in the ‘70s,” she added.

The film is Carlomusto’s first to get to the prestigious Sundance festival. “Festivals are great to get the word around,” she said. The film has received positive reviews, including an in-depth review in The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s what you want. It’s every filmmakers dream to go to festivals like Sundance, and to leave there with good reviews is great!” she said. Carlomusto has had work shown at several, smaller festivals, including the Berlin Film Festival and Austin Film Festival.

“I’ve been making films for 20 years now. I’m drawn towards unorthodox investigations into topics that have been pushed to the periphery by society,” she said. She’s made movies on similar subjects in the past. AIDS, HIV, and gay culture are themes that recur in her work. However, teaching is equally as important to her. “I enjoy teaching, but I wouldn’t enjoy it as much if I didn’t do what I teach for myself. And I wouldn’t enjoy making films if I didn’t teach,” she said. “I like having a foot in both.”

The film was backed by the production company HBO, which gave Carlomusto the opportunity to improve her film. “The name [HBO], of course, is great, but what’s really great is the people,” she said of the people she worked with on her film. “The editor was brilliant. Editor Geof Bartz and co-editor Gladys Murphy stayed with me for six weeks, coming up to speed with my vision; they did a beautiful job cutting the film.”

Carlomusto also got the financial power needed to get licenses for major motion picture sound tracks, including the track from Kramer’s academy nominated “Women in Love.” “You’re talking major money here,” she said. Nina Wikstøl, a 2014 LIU Post graduate in Electronic Media, who was an HBO intern and student at the time, also worked
on the movie with Carlomusto. For more information on the film, visit

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