Thursday, 1 December 2011

Longtime Companion? HIV/AIDS in thirty years of cinema, media and culture

Images from two 'AIDS film dramas': above, Longtime Companion (Norman René, 1989), a film which, as Emmanuel Levy puts it, carried "the burden of being the first [widely distributed] theatrical movie to deal directly with AIDS"; below, a frame grab from Yesterday (Darrell Roodt, 2004), about a Zulu woman living with AIDS. Read Jean Stuart's and Olaia Cores Calvo's articles on this film.
It was [30] years ago, in the summer of 1981, when society as a whole[, including] the scientific community[,] was faced with an unknown disease that came later to be known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Several films [...] reflected the initial fears and uncertainty, the responses of the different social groups, the fight against ignorance, the [demand for] access to treatment and the suffering of the infected individuals and their families [...] due to this disease. Taking into account that these movies were filmed when these epidemics took place they can actually be considered as [...] historical documents that deserve [to be] analysed by the generations to come. Films such as And The Band Played On; Longtime Companion; Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt; Les Nuits Fauves; Angels in America; Yesterday and My Brother... Nikhil have marked [30] years of AIDS history that should not be forgotten by the world. [Adapted from António Pais de Lacerda, 'Cinema as an Historical Document: AIDS in 25 years of Cinema', Journal of Medicine and Movies, 2 (2006): 102-113; hyperlinks added by FSFF]
Film Studies For Free today commemorates the twenty-third World AIDS Day in the thirtieth year since the identification of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. The Human immunodeficiency virus [HIV], the lentivirus which causes the syndrome, was identified two years later, in 1983.

FSFF marks this anniversary year with the below entry of links to scholarly resources on the figuration of AIDS/HIV in cinema and culture.

Today's posting was also inspired by a series of film screenings and discussions on 'AIDS and its Melodramas' that have been taking place at the University of Sussex, UK, organised by Michael Lawrence and John David Rhodes. These academic events will continue next term with screenings of Fatal Love (1991), And the Band Played On (1993), Philadelphia (1993) and, one of FSFF's favourites,  Boys on the Side (1995). Please email FSFF if you'd like more details.

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