Reviewed at Santa Barbara Intl. Film Festival, March 5, 1994. Running time: 66 MIN.
“Living With …” is an instructive and uplifting documentary about the residents and volunteers of Heath House, a model AIDS home in Santa Barbara. Though docu lacks artistic shape, its importance lies in showing how people with AIDS could live a more comfortable and emotionally fulfilling existence given the appropriate facilities. As such, “Living With …” is a natural for public TV and a must for various educational and AIDS-oriented orgs.
There is a lot to be learned from “Living With …,” a docu full of insights and “how-to” guidelines for replicating the Heath House model elsewhere. Accommodating only seven residents at a time, the facility, named after its founder, Alice Heath, is a small operation. But it performs marvels for its residents, who to qualify for admission must be homeless, low-income or living in unsatisfactory conditions.
Pic successfully personalizes the stories of its residents and care givers. The novelty of the Heath House — and docu as a whole — is its emphasis on life , and not death.
While other docus have focused on people with AIDS, it’s a pleasure to hear the Heath House’s staff and volunteers talk about the positive functions and meaning of their work, be it administration, cookingor cleaning.
Aesthetically, film lacks an interesting structure, and production values are just moderate, but its real significance is political and pragmatic. Without overly stressing it point or preaching, “Living With …” succeeds with its inspirational message for more compassionate care.