One of the bolder activist groups from the tepid last quarter century of political protest in the United States is routinely archived in James Wentzy’s “Fight Back, Fight AIDS.” Vid feature chronicling actions by ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) simply compiles long excerpts from meetings and public protests, sans commentary, context or more than occasional identification of places/personages shown. Result will hold little interest for those without prior knowledge of the now largely dormant organization. Still, it’s a worthy addition to academic curricula and to the historical record in general.
Vaguely chronological, pic shows a 1987 protest on Wall Street (where participants furious at the Reagan Administration’s neglect hoisted signature “Silence = Death” placards) through disruption of the 2002 International Conference on AIDS in Barcelona. In between, there are glimpses of events confronting the slow-to-approve-treatments Federal Drug Administration, slow-to-lower-drug-prices pharmaceutical companies, as well as NYC Mayors Koch and Giuliani. (In general, pic does a poor job suggesting ACT-UP’s reach beyond its Manhattan startup point.) Civil disobedience, rough police treatment, an overlong agitprop rap performance, and Bush Sr.-era actions are all given indiscriminately equal weight. Tech presentation is rough.