“illuminate” is a phenomenological short film that evokes the lived experience of being in the LGBTQ closet via sensual, poetic cinematography. This film is based on a cinematic-phenomenological research study by Dr. Nisha Gupta, who conducted in-depth interviews with five research participants about their lived experiences of being closeted about their non-heterosexual sexual orientations. All imagery in the film is derived from research participants’ 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.
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.
Selected as award winner in the documentary genre of the 2018 Colorado International Activism Film Festival: “Most artistic,” “Best soundtrack,” and “Best special effects.”