Mass, another co-founder of GMHC and a hero in his own right. The two of us looked at each other and just said, ‘Larry’s an incredible guy. Why hasn’t a documentary been made about him?’”
She approached Kramer about the documentary, and he didn’t want to do it at first. He had been contacted by several people before and had tried working with one of them, but it didn’t feel right. “But I kept running into him in very serendipitous ways,” says Carlomusto. “He has known I have been documenting the AIDS movement since the mid-’80s and he had seen the piece I did called ‘Sex in an Epidemic,’ so he knew I was going to be fair. I tried to be fair at representing all angles. I was part of the movements and I would paint an accurate portrait—and I didn’t have an ax to grind.”
She started soon afterward, and finished in the fall of 2014, almost five years later. She includes new and archived footage of Kramer, and she interviews many of his colleagues.
Her biggest challenge was an unexpected one—Kramer almost died during the making of the film. She had shot half the interviews and was looking forward to getting footage from Kramer and his partner David when he landed in the hospital, near death. “I didn’t expect to be shooting so much in the hospital,” she says. “So much of the work early on was documenting friends who had died and the work was at hospital. This activated a painful place. I really did not want to be making a documentary about Larry dying, but you have to go where the material brings you. It was moving to see Larry fighting for his life and to see how strong he is in many ways.”
When she started working at GMHC, Kramer was no longer there, but he was still very much a force. He was a reason it existed, she says, even though their parting wasn’t on great terms. Everyone recognized his fire and passion, however, even when they didn’t agree with his tactics.
“I think a lot of people dismiss Larry as a crazy, angry guy; they don’t appreciate the totality of his contribution,” says Carlomusto. “Am I saying that Larry Kramer is the only history of the AIDS epidemic? No—there is no one definitive film about the AIDS epidemic. There were many responses. I personally witnessed what happened in New York City and he was a remarkable hero who spearheaded the responses to the gay plague.”
A college professor for more than 20 years, she has noticed that while her students