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October 20, 2014

United in Anger: A History of ACT UP

In the early 1980s, when AIDS first appeared, I wanted to make a film about the devastation in my community. I refused to invade hospital rooms and show people as pitiful victims of a dread disease as the mainstream media did. Then ACT UP burst onto the scene and made visible a vibrant, public presence of people with AIDS fighting back.

I first filmed ACT UP at the Lesbian & Gay Pride March in New York in June 1987 and continued to film ACT UP with my 16mm camera, but the truly heroic effort of documenting the AIDS activist movement was done by dozens of grassroots videomakers whose work made United in Anger possible.

In June 2001, Sarah Schulman and I realized that a political amnesia was setting in, effacing the incredible efforts of thousands of AIDS activists, living and dead, who forced the United States to deal with the AIDS crisis. To counter this, we established the ACT UP Oral History Project. In the film, excerpts from these interviews explicate, illuminate and extend the archival footage creating a complex portrait of a small group of people who saved millions of lives and changed the world for the better. – Jim Hubbard

The screening will be followed by a conversation including filmmaker Jim Hubbard; the HFA's David Pendleton; Timothy Patrick McCarthy, director of the Carr Center’s Sexuality, Gender, and Human Rights Program; and Evelynn Hammonds, the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies at Harvard.

This event is presented in conjunction with "The A.R.T. Of Human Rights," a collaboration between the American Repertory Theater and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University.


$12 Special Event Tickets
Jim Hubbard in person

Monday October 20 at 7pm

United in Anger:
A History of ACT UP

Directed by Jim Hubbard
US 2012, digital video, color, 93 min

United in Anger is a straightforward and powerful chronicle of the emergence of activist group ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) from the mid-1980s into the 1990s, in the face of a rising death toll and complete government indifference. Unlike other recent films, fiction or documentary, about AIDS activism, United in Anger not only incorporates a great deal of archival footage documenting both meetings and protests, but it also stresses the collective nature of ACT UP, instead of trying to give its history the shape of the life of a single protagonist. The film eloquently captures not only the rage and the grief of the movement but also its joy, its sense of camaraderie and many successes. – David Pendleton

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