“AIDS: Talking to One Another” is a frank and refreshing talking-heads docu in which a cross-section of HIV-positive men and two women articulate their reactions and feelings. Intimate and informative pic, which puts many human faces on the disease, is down to earth and touching in its immediacy.
France has the highest rate of HIV-positive cases in Europe. Co-helmers found their subjects by placing an ad in the daily Liberation: former drug addicts, gay and straight men of several generations, a preteen hemophiliac contaminated in a blood-transfusion scandal. Interviews were filmed in April 1993.
Subjects describe, with candor and eloquence, how they found out they were infected, how they envision the future, how their sex lives and daily relationships have been affected. Photography and editing are straightforward.
A father who learned he was HIV-positive from the blood test for a marriage license says his firstconcern was for the health of his child and wife-to-be. One young man, when diagnosed, called his adoptive parents and then set off in search of his biological mother.
Only tearful moment comes from an HIV-positive mother who still hasn’t found the words to tell her 11-year-old son that he’ll be an orphan one day. (Father died of AIDS in 1989.) “I have to find him a family,” she says. “I have to stockpile memories for him.”
Subjects evince little faith in politicians. One contends that “cadavers dumped on the health ministry’s doorstep wouldn’t make a difference.” The hemophiliac’s mother asserts that, after officials responsible for “the greatest health scandal of this century” only had their wrists slapped, her belief in the nation’s institutions has been so shattered that she refuses to rise when a judge enters the courtroom. Doctors at the hospital where her son receives blood assured her that being HIV-positive was no big deal.
A drug addict diagnosed 10 years ago says the impression in his circle was that AIDS was something people got “an ocean away, over in America.”
Though self-pity is strikingly absent, many voice the fear of a lingering, disfiguring death. A few are convinced they’ve become better, spiritually richer beings as a result of having to cram a lifetime into a shorter time frame.