Review: ‘Fast Trip, Long Drop’

"Fast Trip, Long Drop" is a touching personal diary of Gregg Bordowitz, an angry young man afflicted with AIDS, and how the disease has influenced him as a video artist and political activist. Unusual in its format, docu freely and sometimes absorbingly mixes autobiographical musings on daily existence with AIDS, his Jewish identity and family life and the joys and sorrows of political involvement.

“Fast Trip, Long Drop” is a touching personal diary of Gregg Bordowitz, an angry young man afflicted with AIDS, and how the disease has influenced him as a video artist and political activist. Unusual in its format, docu freely and sometimes absorbingly mixes autobiographical musings on daily existence with AIDS, his Jewish identity and family life and the joys and sorrows of political involvement. The ideal exhibition for this non-traditional docu would be in a program of personal shorts about AIDS, but film also has potential for specialized TV and cable airings.

In 1988, New York videomaker Bordowitz tested HIV-positive, a traumatic event that prompted him to drop alcohol and drugs and come out of the closet. This distressing news, he says, had some positive, if ironic effects: “At 23, I found what I’ve been looking for all my life — a sense of belonging.”

Soon thereafter, a close friend was diagnosed with breastcancer and Bordowitz’s grandparents were killed in a car crash. The cumulative result of these events was to challenge his sense of identity and force him to revisit his Jewish roots.

Bordowitz’s life has been marked by countless deaths of relatives and friends that forced him to reassess his illness and his future. Prevalence of death no doubt explains docu’s dominant visual motif: footage of car and airplane crashes , daredevil stunts and other disasters.

Combining personal and collective history, Bordowitz chronicles the gay community’s response to government inaction on AIDS during the Reagan and Bush administrations, voicing his frustrations not only with the government’s policy, the medical establishment and media coverage, but also with institutionalized gay activism.

“I don’t want to be a hero or model,” the filmmaker says about his new philosophy. “Survival is my only concern.” That said, he must also realize that his response to having AIDS is not as peculiarly subjective as it might appear on the surface.

Fast Trip, Long Drop

Production

Produced, directed, written by Gregg Bordowitz. Executive producer, Sara Diamond.

Crew

Camera (color), Bob Huff, Jean Carlomusto, Jason Simon; music, Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg, Alicia Sviglas. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Jan. 24, 1994. Running time: 54 MIN.
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