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The Battle of Amfar (2013)

When AIDS struck in the early 1980s, a scientist and a movie star did not have to respond - but they did. Dr. Mathilde Krim and Elizabeth Taylor joined forces to create amfAR, the ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Richard Berkowitz ...
Himself - Safe sex advocate / Author
Timothy Ray Brown ...
Himself - 'The Berlin Patient' (archive footage) (as Timothy Brown)
Michael Callen ...
Himself - Author (archive footage)
Himself - amfAR board chair
Aileen Getty ...
Herself - Elizabeth Taylor's daughter-in-law
Himself (archive footage)
Orrin G. Hatch ...
Himself - Senator, Ryan White Care Act hearings (archive footage) (as Senator Orrin Hatch)
Richard Heffner ...
Himself - PBS 'Open Mind' (archive footage) (as Richard Douglas Heffner)
Regan Hoffman ...
Herself - Journalist (as Regan Hofmann)
Himself - Actor (archive footage)
Himself - U.S. Senate, Ryan White Care Act (archive footage)
Herself - Research scientist (as Mathilde Krim Ph.D.)
Ted Landau ...
Himself - NYU School of Medicine (as Ted Landau Ph.D.) (as Dr. Ned Landau)
Jeffrey Laurence ...
Himself - Weill Cornell Medical College / amfAR senior science advisor (as Jeffrey Laurence M.D.)
Sally Morrison ...
Herself - Elizabeth Taylor's publicist


When AIDS struck in the early 1980s, a scientist and a movie star did not have to respond - but they did. Dr. Mathilde Krim and Elizabeth Taylor joined forces to create amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. The fight against HIV has never been the same. The Perfect Host reveals how two powerful and very different women came together, and what their combined efforts achieved. With passion and wit, Taylor wielded celebrity as a weapon against government indifference while Krim's commitment to science ensured support for the most promising research areas. Today, the only man cured of AIDS can thank research championed by Mathilde Krim. Visually dazzling and emotionally compelling, this story offers a surprising perspective on the still ongoing fight against AIDS. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


How a star and a scientist fought for hope, compassion, and a cure.


TV-14 | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 January 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Battle of amfAR  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

1991 The Centers for Disease Control reports that one million Americans are HIV positive. See more »


References Philadelphia (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

To say there is nothing new here is a compliment
2 December 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedberg have done a daring thing in documentary cinema. For one, they decided to tackle the massive topic of the AIDS virus and the efforts taken to combat the rampant disease. The second is make the documentary a mere forty minutes in length. HBO simultaneously amazes me and upsets me with their recent line of original documentaries they run every Monday night on their network; they tackle massive subjects but make them their runtimes micro-sized in comparison.

But these micro-mini documentaries generate the power, emotion, and suspense only a handful of feature-length documentaries are known to generate. The last HBO documentary I was gifted to see was Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, concerning a team of dedicated employees at a crisis hotline that work around the clock to provide people, predominately veterans, with the support and help they need when they are having a breakdown or are on the verge of committing suicide.

The Battle of amfAR concerns another unfortunate epidemic, this time it's the HIV virus that took America by surprise in the 1980's and was met with large amounts of criticism, little government interference, and a skyrocketing number of deaths. The only thing scarier than bearing the symptoms during the virus's inception was how the public was going to perceive you once you had the disease. There was no such thing as a cure, having the disease meant you engaged in homosexual sex, police didn't want to touch victims, doctors didn't want to treat you, the government didn't have your back, morticians were scared of embalming you, and it seemed that when you needed everyone the most nobody even thought to give you a second long.

But thanks to the brave, unconventional actions of popular Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor, AIDs-patient and fellow actor Rock Hudson, Doctor Mathilde Krim, and numerous other people who saw a problem and dared to solve it, the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) was founded, providing the helpless with much-needed help. AmfAR worked tirelessly to provide individuals with the support they needed, as well as providing exceptional research facilities to try and establish a cure for the drug.

The film explicitly notes that the organization's success rests on the shoulders of determined, affected Americans in addition to the courageous Hollywood elite that made this happen and not the federal government. The Reagan administration was almost entirely silent on the issue, disregarding their main priority which is to protect the lives of the citizens of their nation. Hollywood actors like Taylor, Hudson, and even Sharon Stone boldly stepped in, an unthinkable act at the time, to show that recognition for the severity of HIV had long been swept under the rug and needed immediate attention.

However, one major victory for the AIDS awareness/research movement was the passing of the Ryan White Care Act, a piece of legislation that would help victims of the virus. Ryan White was an unfortunate, fourteen-year-old hemophiliac who contracted the AIDS virus as a freshman in high school, making the treacherous hallways of his high school more of a depressing, intimidating battleground than they already are. Had it not been for him, who knows how much longer Congress would've slept on such an issue.

The film was directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedberg, who both directed the fascinating and largely-unseen biopic on Linda Lovelace also released this year. The Battle of amfAR further illustrates their interest and undivided attention to taboo sex of decades past.

The Battle of amfAR really doesn't offer anything new, but really, that may be a good thing. Knowledge of STDs and HIV are just about public domain now, so much so that information about its effects are taught in schools and there is a day dedicated to awareness of the disease. Taylor would be proud, Krim is definitely proud, the amfAR organization is undoubtedly proud, and the gay community can rest easier in regards that knowledge of and research of HIV is prolific and very common. To say The Battle of amfAR tells us almost nothing new is almost the ultimate compliment.

Directed by: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freidberg.

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