The short life of Pedro Zamora, the famously outspoken AIDS activist and “The Real World: San Francisco” subject who died before the 1994 season finale aired on MTV, is effectively dramatized in Nick Oceano’s debut feature. Penned by Dustin Lance Black, who also scripted Gus Van Sant’s upcoming “Milk,” this smaller-scaled biopic hits the right emotional notes while avoiding obvious inspirational-tearjerker beats. Niche theatrical isn’t impossible, though primary exposure will skew smallscreen.
Separated from several family members in childhood when Cuban authorities refused to let his military-service-aged brothers emigrate to Miami in 1980, precocious Zamora (Alex Loynaz) was dealt another blow by his mother’s subsequent cancer death. Consciously homosexual from his early teen years, he was diagnosed HIV-positive at age 17. “The Real World” (on which he was the first openly gay participant) provided a unique opportunity for public AIDS education, of which he took full advantage, despite the attention stolen by noxious provocateur David “Puck” Rainey. Nicely acted and crafted pic focuses on Zamora’s relationships with housemates Judd (Hale Appleman) and Pam (Jenn Liu), as well as his sister Mily (Justina Machado) and longterm boyfriend Sean (DaJuan Johnson).