40 years after the discovery of HIV in June 1983, we want to spend an evening remembering those who are no longer here, discussing with those who are, and taking a closer look at the heroism, drive, and change that HIV has sparked in the queer community and its current impact.
Moderated by Holger Wicht, the press officer of the German Aids-Hilfe, we ask young and older activists about their experiences, stories and let people like Matthias Frings explain to us what the beginnings of the Aids epidemic in Berlin looked like.
Afterwards, there’s a multi-award-winning, rousing masterpiece on the subject: 120 BPM by Robin Campillo, which brought critics and audiences to raptures in 2018 and will do so again tonight.
Great film! And a great evening for sure!
a movie by Robin Campillo
France 2017, 144 minutes, french OV with German subtitles
with Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel, Antoine Reinartz, Félix Maritaud and many others
Paris, early 1990s. AIDS has been raging in France for almost ten years, but large sections of society are still silent about the epidemic. Mitterrand’s government does not care about sexual education, and the pharmaceutical lobby delays the development of new drugs. Act Up, an activist group of those affected, wants to draw attention to the abuses. It throws fake blood-filled water bombs on the walls of research facilities and hijacks the city’s classrooms armed with information brochures. How far the actions are allowed to go is a matter of controversy at the weekly meetings. When 26-year-old Nathan, who is HIV-negative himself, joins Act up, he is immediately drawn to the community’s determination. And he falls in love with Sean, the bravest and most radical of the group. Together they fight on the front lines, even after Sean has long since contracted the disease …
Moroccan-born French director Robin Campillo (“Eastern Boys,” 2015) was himself involved with Act Up (Aids Coalition to Unleash Power) for years in the 90s. Based on his personal experiences, he shows the controversial debates and spectacular actions of the group in “120 BPM” – and thus sets a long overdue cinematic monument to European AIDS activism. But his stirring period piece only unfolds its full, revolutionary power through the intimate love story between Nathan and Sean embedded in it. At a historical moment in which for HIV-positive people and their relatives and friends the political is of personal, even existential importance, a pair of lovers confronts social ignorance and the fear of their own death with furious resistance, wild sex and an irrepressible will to live.
“120 BPM” premiered in Cannes, was hailed as a masterpiece, and won three of the major awards: the Grand Prix, the Queer Palm, and the FIPRESCI Prize.