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In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, the disease was considered a death sentence affecting communities, like the LGBT ones, whom many in power felt deserved it. This film tells the story of how militant activists like ACT-UP and TAG pushed for a meaningful response to this serious public health problem. As the activists struggled against political indifference, religious hostility, corporate greed and apparently skewed scientific research priorities with determination and sheer audacity, they produced a political wave that would lead to not only an effective treatment regime, but would advance LGBT rights beyond anyone's expectations. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Performed & Arranged by 'Superhuman Happiness'
Written by Arthur Russell (as Charles Arthur Russell Jr.) ((ASCAP)
Used by Permission of Echo & Feedback Newsletter Music (ASCAP)
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wonderful, bittersweet look at a movement over ten years
That seeming rarity: an incisive, heartfelt documentary about people doing good that is important, even today as AIDS is not the 'plague' it once was. It shows what people will do when they are pushed to a limit
it's not even about gay rights but about human rights, for proper
health-care for the deathly ill. It's filmmaking that doesn't shy away from the rougher areas - when there is infighting in ACT UP, the director (first timer David France) shows it warts and all. But it's the heroism by the likes of Peter Staley and Mark Harrington that shines through the most. As Roger Ebert said, it's most emotional for the audience with a drama when seeing good people suffer, as do the people in ACT UP and in the AIDS crisis, and in doing good, against all odds.
We get the sense that they were not just fighting for themselves, though that was certainly a big component, but fighting for the millions that needed the medicine that could at least be attempted. The saddest part is seeing the trial and error over the years, where people who did take the early drugs like ATX just didn't get better like they should've. It's a bittersweet conclusion since by the time the medicine did get to the point where AIDS was at least something people could try and not, you know, kill them, so many had already passed (the ticker per-year that comes up becomes more and more shocking, albeit a lot of these numbers were from Africa). As a document of the AIDS/HIV crisis and as a pure protest movie and 'Fight the Powers That Be!' saga, it's moving, harsh, and keeps its story moving with compelling people who faced up to the fact that their fight had to be about science even before it being a social issue.
Oh, and the sort of 'reveal' you don't even expect in the last ten or so minutes... it shoots this up to being essential viewing.
15 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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