Protest documentary looks at history of AIDS
TROY, N.Y. "United in Anger: A History of ACT UP" is a unique feature-length documentary about how a small group of men and women of all races and classes, came together to change the world and save each other’s lives. This inspiring film shows the birth and life of the AIDS activist movement from the perspective of the people in the trenches fighting the epidemic. Using oral histories and rare archival footage, the film depicts the heroic efforts of ACT UP in the battle against corporate greed, social indifference, homophobia, and government neglect.
According to the NY Times, "As scrappy and passionate as the actions it documents, ‘United in Anger: A History of Act Up’ delivers a living tribute to a movement spawned by death and despair."
"I started making this film 25 years ago, 10 years ago or 3 years ago depending on how you look at it," says film maker Jim Hubbard.
"I first filmed ACT UP at the Lesbian & Gay Pride March in New York in June 1987. I started filming Gay political events in 1979 in the lead up to the first national march on Washington. In the early 1980s when AIDS first devastated the Gay community, I began thinking about making a film about AIDS, but was stymied because I had no intention of elbowing my way into hospital rooms to show people at their most vulnerable and victimized as the mainstream media were doing. In 1984, my ex-lover, the filmmaker Roger Jacoby, was diagnosed. He wanted to be filmed and during the last year and a half of his life I filmed him and when he died, I inherited his outtakes. Then ACT UP came along with its flamboyantly visual style of politics. Together these two elements formed the backbone of my film ‘Elegy in the Streets.’"
"I continued to film ACT UP over the years with my 16mm camera, but the real heroic effort of documenting the AIDS activist movement was carried on by the dozens of AIDS activist videomakers whose work appears in United in Anger. From 1995 to 2000, I worked with the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS to convince many of these videomakers to donate their footage to the New York Public Library’s Division of Manuscripts and Archives. The NYPL’s AIDS Activist Video Collection consists of more than 1,000 hours of finished tapes and raw footage. It is an historical resource of immense value and I am exceedingly grateful to the many filmmakers who allowed me to utilize their footage. I bear full responsibility for this film, so if you have complaints direct them to me, but I feel very strongly that the film is the end result of the collective work of dozens of valiant people who videotaped and edited the remarkable body of work that documents the AIDS activist movement. As I worked on the film I always felt that there was a collective intelligence that shaped it and made it possible."
"In June 2001, during the 20th anniversary of AIDS, Sarah Schulman heard a radio broadcast that said in essence that ‘at first Americans were upset by AIDS, then they got used to it.’ We knew we had to do something about this political amnesia that effaced the incredible efforts of thousands of AIDS activists, living and dead. We began the ACT UP Oral History Project. To date, we have videotaped interviews with 128 ACT UPpers and expect to interview at least 100 more before we are finished. James Wentzy who has been documenting ACT UP since 1990 videotaped most of the interviews. Many excerpts from these interviews are in the film and people can download complete transcripts and view more video excerpts (edited by James and me) on the website www.actuporalhistory.org."
"I began intensely editing this film about three years ago. I took it as far as I could go, but always knew that for this film to be accessible to an audience that hadn’t been steeped in the AIDS crisis for thirty years, I would have to find a young editor who could make sure that it was intelligible to a wide audience. I was extraordinarily lucky to find Ali Cotterill who worked so incredibly hard on this film and edited it so it became the elegant, smart and comprehensive film that I think it is."
This presentation of "United in Anger" with film maker Jim Hubbard is co-sponsored by iEAR Presents! and made possible by volunteer labor and small financial contributions from thousands of patrons of The Sanctuary for Independent Media.
The Sanctuary for Independent Media is a telecommunications production facility dedicated to community media arts, located in an historic former church at 3361 6th Avenue in North Troy, NY. The Sanctuary hosts screening, production and performance facilities, training in media production and a meeting space for artists, activists and independent media makers of all kinds.
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