Documentary Presents Intimate Perspective on the AIDS Epidemic
People living with HIV live longer, healthier lives when regularly taking antiretroviral medication. But a few decades ago, the fear and judgment for those who contracted this deadly disease were high. Recently a team of health care professionals at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City created a documentary to chronicle the experiences of patients and staff in a unique outpatient clinic.
“There was a film about San Francisco General’s AIDS ward that one of our nurses saw, and it was great,” says Matthew Baney, senior director at the Institute for Advanced Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System.
In 2018, filmmakers Paul Haggis and Dan Krauss directed the documentary film 5B about the nurses and caregivers that opened the world’s first HIV/AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital. The film was acquired by Verizon Media and later shown at the San Francisco Doc Stories film festival and Cannes Film Festival.
“[Our nurse] had the idea: What about an oral history of the Peter Krueger Clinic? I totally supported the idea. It’s a totally different environment — that was an inpatient clinic, we’re an outpatient program,” Baney says.
The oral history became a documentary film, From Darkness to Light.
“Once we identified the company we wanted to work with, we sat with them and proposed some production schedules. Out of that, we determined where our end product should finish. We originally thought an oral history, people just talking, would be enough, and it wasn’t. It didn’t tell the story,” Baney says.
He continues: “Once we got that together, the biggest challenge was to determine who would be in the film. We want to have staff, but we also wanted to have patients because, without patients, we wouldn’t be here.”
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