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AIDS Help Presents the 5th Annual Key West Pride Film Festival

Sunday May 27, 2012
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KEY WEST, FL - Now in its 5th year, the Key West Pride Film Festival at Tropic Cinema has been sponsored and programmed by the Education department at AIDS Help since its inception. The goal is to provide free public access to cinematic works, some little-seen, that promote healthy living.

Previous Festival films have included ’Making The Boys’, ’And The Band Played On’, ’The Boys In The Band’, ’Two Spirits’, ’Key West: City of Colors’, ’The Gift’, ’The Ride: Seven Days To End AIDS’ and ’Gay Sex In The 70’s’.

AIDS Help, a non-profit, community-based organization, provides case managed healthcare, affordable housing and housing assistance, food counseling, referral and support services and education, HIV-testing and counseling outreach for residents of Monroe County living with HIV/AIDS.

This year, three separate films, with limited or no theatrical exposure in South Florida, are being proudly offered by the Education department of AIDS Help at the Tropic Cinema, beginning Wednesday, June 6th for three consecutive evenings during Key West PRIDE. All are presented free to the public.


The first night will offer the 2002 San Francisco-based documentary ’The Cockettes’, directed by Davis Weissman, about the gender-bending hippie troupe that performed midnight drag musicals at the Palace Theatre in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

Operetta-like productions with titles like ’Pearls Over Shanghai’ thrilled audiences with their flamboyant narratives, and Weissman’s look back at their antics as they made their way to Broadway in New York is as wry as it is sobering.

"Locating surviving Cockette members was apparently a challenge," stated Derrick Traylor, Director of Education. "Many were lost to drugs, many more to AIDS. Even an early collaborator died during pre-production. The 2002 movie celebrates idealism and counterculture...yet also shows the toll the rebelliousness took."

On Thursday, June 7th, the new documentary ’We Were Here’, also directed by Weissman, will receive its Key West premiere, beginning at 6 p.m.

’We Were Here’ focuses on 5 individuals, all of whom resided in San Francisco pre-AIDS. Blending archival footage with new interviews, the retrospective illuminates the unimaginable emotional toll, the political complexities of a sexually-transmitted plague and the role of women -- notably lesbians -- of caring for a community being ravaged by AIDS.

"We’re tremendously excited to acquaint theatergoers with a documentary that opens up an interesting dialogue," commented Traylor. "Through thousands live with HIV and new infections continue at an alarming rate, medical advancements have brought a calm, even a little willful forgetfulness. We Were Here gives a West Coast historical perspective with amazing humanity."

Weissman added, "Everyone is going to come to a film like this with a degree of trepidation: how emotional is it going to be, how painful, do I really want to see this? I wanted to invite the audience in, in a completely unambiguous way. Step one of the casting was people who would be warm...who would say to the audience, ’It’s safe to come on this journey with me’."


The documentary offers a direct-address style of intimate storytelling. Five people describe how the AIDS epidemic challenged everything they knew about themselves and their adopted hometown. Illustrated by heartbreaking video/photo albums of men who perished in the earliest days of the plague, sometimes after undergoing excruciating drug trials, the film’s slow drip of anecdotes provides the human dimension to the fabled "San Francisco model" for AIDS treatment, which held a community together until life-saving drug cocktails arrived.

That night’s audience is invited to remain for a SKYPE Q/A videoconference with filmmaker Weissman. Questions are encouraged.

San Francisco also plays a role in the final screening of the Festival. On Friday night, June 8th, the 2010 documentary ’The Adonis Factor’ will be shown, and this Christopher Hines documentary first drew acclaim at a San Francisco LGBT film festival.

The film both champions and casts a critical eye upon LGBT liberation...the skin-deep mentality that the hippie era so forcefully rejected, contrasted with the new shackles of gymrat narcissism many gay men willingly embrace.

"There’s plenty of eye candy and chiseled 6-packs," Traylor laughed, "yet the superficiality of the gay male community comes from diverse viewpoints. It’s a complex, sometimes inflammatory, subject that covers everything from circuit parties and being part of the A-List to anorexia, steroid abuse and pec implants."

’The Adonis Factor’, like the others, begins promptly at 6 p.m.

Also note that each night, after the main film presentation (at approximately 8 p.m.), Tropic Cinema will screen ’FAGBUG’, the powerful chronicle of Erin Davies’ 58- day tour of the nation in her VW Bug that was vandalized with homophobic slurs. Presented by the AIDS Help Education department; co-sponsored by the Key West High School Gay Straight Alliance and the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. Erin Davis herself will be present for a Q/A on the first night, Wednesday, June 6th.

LINK: The Key West Pride Film Festival

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