Friday, February 22, 2013

'Plague' (and I + Others) Nominated for Best Documentary Oscar

I'd like to thank the Academy for nominating David France's film "How to Survive a Plague" as one of the best documentaries of last year. At the same time, I wish to express my humble, deep and ever-lasting gratitude to all of my activist brothers and sisters who were part of ACT UP during the darkest and deadliest days of the AIDS epidemic in America.

Being here in 2013, with recent illnesses, diminished immune system and infections and the side effects of more than a decade on an HIV cocktail, and surrounded by loving my loving extended family and good friends, sharing laughter and daily life with my hus-bear Mike, would not be possible without my activism and that of others in the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power.

I make two small appearances in "Plague", first during the protest inside St. Patrick's Cathedral and later on during a street demonstration in Manchester, New Hampshire, leading up to the 1992 presidential primary.

I feel all of us ACT UPers who appear in the film were recognized by the Oscar nomination and that we all share in the recognition from the Academy.

One reason why I'm a fan of "Plague" and the other ACT UP documentary "United in Anger" directed by Jim Hubbard and Sarah Schulman, is because the films brought a number of deceased friends and decent people back to life.

AIDS was not just a medical epidemic and political crisis. AIDS before protease inhibitors was a fucking war with too many people cut down in the prime of life, and we've still as a nation and a proud gay community have not fully come to grasp the awfulness of the battlefields we fought on and the people we lost.

Today I wish honor the late Steev Bohrer, the man who gave ACT UP its name. Steev was a volunteer on the Gay Men's Health Crisis hotline and during his time at the switchboard would create acronyms of groups that one day might form and combat AIDS. Steev is missed and remembered for his contributions to activism.

Regarding the chances of "Plague" winning the Oscar, I believe they are good, but I speak with much bias as someone who appears (and loudly yells) in it.

A better prognosticator of the likely winner for best documentary is the Indie Wire site, which predicts "Searching for Sugarman" will win but also says "Plague" could win. Just being nominated is an honor for "Plague" and we'll all learn on Sunday which documentary is taking home the golden Oscar statuette. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping for a win - but thank you for a touching and heartfelt account of how story intersects with that told in the documentary. As you said it brings to life the experiences of many, both present and gone,: it's a lasting testimony to the weight of history that this fight encompassed and the impact its had not on just on the world but in the countless lives of many.

For those here now, for those gone and for those yet to come - thank you.