“illuminate” is a poetic documentary that evokes what it feels like to be in the LGBTQ closet. This award-winning short film is based on a phenomenological research study by clinical psychologist Dr. Nisha Gupta, who conducted in-depth interviews with research participants about their lived experiences of being closeted about their sexual orientation. All imagery in the film is derived from research participants’ metaphoric descriptions of what being in the closet felt like for them personally. Research findings suggest that the closet is experienced as a traumatic loss of existential rights: the right to truth, freedom, love, hope, and power. “illuminate” uses symbolic cinematography to make visible the invisible psychic pain that the closet incites, to inspire LGBTQ people to keep fighting for our existential rights, and to instill compassion and hope among viewers.

While “illuminate” focuses on the closeted experience among sexual minorities, this project stands in solidarity for intersectional LGBTQ+ rights across the globe.

Directed by Nisha Gupta. Cinematography by Joseph Carreno and Nisha Gupta. Acting by Orlando Davis (lead), L.H. Gonzalez, Monisha Schwartz, Isaiah Noreiga, Lee Lytle, Jacob Wasson, Mary-Beth Grimaldi, Matt Rich, and Hakim Fontaine. Music by Lesley Flanigan. A Phenomenological Film Collective production.

PRESS ABOUT FILM: “We are moving stories” interview and “Art with Impact” interview

Selected as award winner in the documentary genre of the 2018 Colorado International Activism Film Festival: “Most artistic,” “Best soundtrack,” and “Best special effects.”

Film trailer: