An intimate, first-person story documenting the last two years in the life of a young doctor with AIDS.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Peter Jepson-Young ...
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An intimate, first-person story documenting the last two years in the life of a young doctor with AIDS.

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1 July 1993 (USA)  »

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The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter: America Undercover  »

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Peter Jepson-Young: I accept and absorb all the strength of the earth to keep my body hard and strong. I accept and absorb all the energy of the sun to keep my mind sharp and bright. I accept and absorb all the life force of the ocean to cleanse my body and bring me life. I accept and absorb all the power of the wind to cleanse my spirit and bring me strength of purpose. I accept and absorb all the mystery of the heavens because I'm a part of that vast unknown. I believe God to be all these elements and the force ...
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An Honorable Achievement
8 July 2013 | by (São Paulo, Brazil) – See all my reviews

While the majority of audiences was looking at the groundbreaking "Philadelphia" and/or at the historical "And the Band Played On", theatrical or fictionalized versions on AIDS issues, they forgot to take a look at this powerful real story of a young doctor diagnosed with HIV who decided to film the disease's progress and the treatment he was going through on a series of videos, a video diary primarily broadcast on Canadian TV and later transformed into this documentary, released after his death. It all came out on the same year, all the awards were given to Jonathan Demme's film which was the first mainstream Hollywood film to deal about AIDS (indie films were already treating the subject and with more honesty and courage though) but this documentary was at least nominated for an Oscar. It's just sad that even this accolade wasn't enough to make this film more known, now practically vanished into obscurity if it wasn't for the tenacity of devoted film buffs out there. And 20 years later of its release it causes great impact but only with the audience who viewed the original broadcast of the diaries in between 1990-1992, now present on the internet but a little hidden. But if you manage to find it, it's a memorable experience and an important one.

Dr. Peter Jepson-Young (but to his many viewers he was just Dr. Peter, the full name was released after his death, in 1992) chronicled his battle with the disease as a way to inform and raise awareness on a disease people knew little about at the time which created a heavy stigma on its victims, and he does it by presenting his experiences on the subject, showing the effects on his body, and how declining his health was at each presented entry on his diary. Diagnosed in 1986, by the time he started the videos in 1990, he was already blind in one eye, then later lost the whole sight on the other eye as well and evolving with other immune deficiency problems the virus and the treatment causes. The only images we see of him healthy are from family pictures presented at the beginning of each segment and with those we form a whole image of how devastating AIDS is. It's a shocking transformation but it's something we need to see, to learn and to be informed about.

He was more than just giving a face of the disease, he was an example of positivism, hope and commitment. Even though when hearing about having the virus was already a death sentence, he proved to be willing to win this battle, hopeful and incredibly well-humored at many times, enjoying life the best way he could (which includes skiing after his vision loss). And there was time for him to discuss some personal topics, specially concerning about sexuality, family, spirituality, life and death. My personal favorite moment from the movie comes when Dr. Peter visits the place where he wants to be buried and he has contact with one of his many viewers, a priest. A true sign that his efforts were working and that people were seeing him as more than just another gay man dying of AIDS. They were watching a suffering human being, and they cared for him. The priest could simply throw him away, forbid a mass or tribute to him, simply close the doors to him but no, he accepted the man who was in front of him, and whom he saw on TV many times before. A giant leap from the time when the first casualties of the disease were refused by funeral homes who were afraid of dealing with they thought was a contagious thing.

Above some of the fore-mentioned reasons "The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter" is a must-see documentary as a testament of time, a register of a difficult period for this disease carriers, barely living with the poor and rarely effective treatment they received and despite the medicine advances which prolongs their lives it's not a far reality for many people out there. 30 years after its discovery, and 20 from this documentary and still no cure. The only thing that disappointed me was its running time. 45 minutes is fine but I wonder why they didn't put together the whole 111 episodes. It surely says everything it's need to be said, it's very summed up but it could be longer. In any case, Dr. Peter's mission was accomplished. The energy in you will never be lost. 10/10


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