Elegy in the Streets

Exploring the AIDS crisis from both a personal and a political perspective, the film attempts to create a filmic rendering of the elegiac form, utilizing a procession of mourners, a catalog of flowers, a visit to the underworld and other poetic techniques. It intertwines two main motifs: memories of Roger Jacoby, a filmmaker who died of AIDS, and the development of a mass response to AIDS. The collective response begins with mourning at a candlelight vigil and the deep sadness of the AIDS Quilt and then progresses toward a much more determined reaction by ACT-UP: first, in the Gay Pride March in New York City, then in separate demonstrations that build in militancy -- with a corresponding increasingly heavy-handed response by the police -- culminating in a demonstration during a baseball game and the thumbs-up sign of a teenager sporting a Silence = Death button. The film is nearly 30 minutes long and silent. I know that is a lot to ask of an audience, but it is silent for several crucial reasons. First, it is a literalization of the phrase “Silence = Death.” Second, I live in New York City, a very loud place to live and, for me, silence is a great luxury. Third, I believe that film is a visual medium and sound is typically used to manipulate and limit the emotional response of the audience. I want each member of the audience to experience the film uniquely and personally. Silence forces the viewer to really look at what there is to see.

“... roars with urgency from beginning to end.” — Karl Soehnlein, Outweek 

“... a powerful work that chronicles the filmmaker's experience of a political moment filled with personal loss.” Jason Simon, Afterimage 

“... exquisitely hand-processed ... miniature portraits of a friend ... infusing his memorial not with nostalgia, but activism.” — Manohla Dargis, The Village Voice