..Fight Back, Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP

Stonewall 25<1994<Marching Up Fifth Avenue


photograph by Bill Dobbs   

Over the span of its 15-year history, ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) has helped to transform the world's consciousness about HIV and AIDS, and made activism a vital part of the LGBT political landscape. Comprehensively documented by media activists and video collectives, the bold strategies, media savvy, and decidedly queer wit of ACT.UP remains a fresh source of inspiration to today's artists and activists through the invaluable trove of images sampled in this dynamic program of AIDS activist video. __,,|MIX.2002|.

In 1987 with AIDS deaths in the thousands and government policy still criminally indifferent, activists formed ACT.UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) with the sentiment "turn anger, fear, and grief into action". James Wentzy's documentary Fight Back, Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT.UP uses archive footage of speeches, demonstrations and ACT.UP meetings as it follows the group's imaginative, inspiring and in-your-face campaigning over 15 years. Deploying increasingly bold tactics such as demonstrations, civil disobedience, die-ins and political funerals, ACT.UP has addressed issues including more research funding, quicker drug testing, AIDS prevention education, government intervention, and most recently, measures to combat the disease in Africa. __,,|BERLINALE.PANORAMA|

In March 1987, the first AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) event took place on Wall Street. In the 15 years since the protest that shut down the world's financial center, ACT UP has been at the forefront of public awareness. Their demonstrations, die-ins, political funerals, marches, and speeches were key in propelling issues related to HIV/AIDS into major political and international topics. ACT UP member and AIDS video activist James Wentzy has constructed a vivid compilation documentary with Fight Back, Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP. The powerful clips depict the multiple bold events that ACT UP has staged, including: the inspiring First ACT UP action on Wall Street protesting the profiteering of the pharmaceutical companies that made AIDS-related drugs; National Nine Days of Rage, in which more than 50 ACT UP chapters congregated on the New York state capital to protest AIDS policies (or the lack thereof) involving IV drug use, homophobia, people of color, women, prison programs, and children with AIDS; and intense coverage of political funerals of ACT UP and affinity group The Marys, which included carrying an open coffin from Washington Square to the New York Republican Party headquarters on West 43rd Street, as well as an open casket political funeral in front of the White House. With fierce images and speeches, including many poignant ones by film historian and ACT UP pioneer Vito Russo, Fight Back, Fight AIDS is a dynamic alternative historical record of the queer political landscape, HIV/AIDS, and AIDS activist video. __,,| TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL |



  documentary by .James Wentzy      76-minutes      (2002)

     watch now >


Fight Back, Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP was produced and directed
by James Wentzy and licensed
under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License representing
the association and camaraderie with ACT UP New York actupny.org/divatv       Creative Commons License


 REVIEWS distribution info  below


>>>> Film Festivals and Screenings>

.MIX 2002 (16th New York Lesbian & Gay Experimental Film and Video Festival
.PREMIERED ,November 21st, 2002 .Anthology Film Archives, New York City . |.website.|.
Saturday . 8 February 2003 . 17:00 . CineStar 7
Sunday . 9 February 2003 . 22:00 . CineStar 7
Monday . 10 February 2003 . 14:30 . CineStar 7
The film will be presented in the PANORAMA DOKUMENTE within the Official Programme of
the Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin. The press is invited to the premiere and the press talk
with the audience will be held directly after the screening in the cinema.    |
reviews |
Berlinale website | Press Release and Catalog (pdf) | post card announcement

TURIN 18th International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
April 22, 2003      | website | Catalog Description.(pdf) |

Art Institute of Chicago   Queer Film Festival   May 2, 2003   | website |

Gay Men's Health Summit .Raleigh, North Carolina,.screening ..7:30 PM .May 9, 2003  | website |

      | website | Catalog Description (pdf) | review | post card


Wednesday, May 7, 2003
4:00 PM
Integrated Studios
449 Washington Street
Saturday, May 10, 2003
4:15 PM
Tribeca Film Center
375 Greenwich Street

MILAN 17th Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival   3rd June 2003   | website | Catalog (pdf)

SAN FRANCISCO 27th International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

June 25th, 2003  6:30 PM  Herbst Theatre
   | website | Catalog Description (pdf)

World Jubilee Conference of Metropolitan Community Churches   Dallas, Texas   July 4th, 2003   | website |

REEL CHANGE: DOCUMENTING AMERICAN ACTIVISM .. Provocative, intelligent and inspiring, this astonishing collection of documentaries focuses on queer Americans who have committed their lives to progressive social change. The series salutes their historical impact on issues of sexuality, gender, racism, AIDS and economic justice. In these formidable times for dissent, the outspoken activists chronicled here remind us what democracy looks like.  FIGHT BACK, FIGHT AIDS: 15 YEARS OF ACT UP   The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power was formed 15 years ago in response to the inconceivable paralysis of the American establishment in responding to AIDS. Their mission: to turn anger, fear and grief into action. With smart marketing campaigns, media savvy and creative civil disobedience, ACT UP energized queer politics and brought radical activism to the forefront of LGBT culture. Using his own video documentation and archival footage -- granting access to the initial organizing meetings, ashes thrown on the White House lawn, political funerals in the streets, and one of Vito Russo's final great speeches -- director James Wentzy has constructed a valuable and inspirational history of ACT UP that screened at the Berlin Film Festival. -- KMS     
SATURDAY . JULY 12, 2003 . 9:30 PM . DGA 2    | website | Catalog Description (pdf)

National Association of People with AIDS
Staying Alive Conference: Two Decades of Positive Leadership
Denver, Colorado    August 15, 2003   Denver Museum of Nature and Science    | website |

Next 5 Minutes 4   International Festival of Tactical Media
Amsterdam     11 - 14 September 2003    | website   watch mpeg4 stream |
Next 5 Minutes is a festival that brings together art, campaigns, experiments in media technology, and transcultural politics. Next 5 Minutes revolves around the notion of tactical media, the fusion of art, politics and media. The festival is organised irregularly, when the urgency is felt to bring a new edition of the festival together.

Q! Film Screening   Jakarta, Indonesia     | website |
         20 Sep  17.00   IKJ – Ruang Multi Guna
         25 Sep   18.00   GoetheHaus                                 
and touring in 8 cities in Indonesia
         26 Sep   19.00   Cemara 6 Gallery

Student Global AIDS Campaign    National Leadership and Training Retreat
October 3, 2003   Friday   9:30 pm   Wellesley College, Boston      | website |

University of Utah    Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival
October 6, 2003   Monday  5:00 pm   University Olpin Union Theater      | website |

Pacientes de SIDA pro Politica Sana
October ~15, 2003    Conference Screening    San Juan, Puerto Rico

Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival    Three Dollar Bill Cinema
October 18, 2003   Saturday   2:30pm   Free   Capitol Hill Branch of The Seattle Public Library    | website |

Reel Affirmations   Washington DC    13th International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
October 19, 2003   Sunday   6:00 pm   JCC Theater     | website | Catalog Description (pdf)
“We are angry, we want action!” Last year the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) celebrated its fifteenth anniversary. It was March 1987 when ACT UP staged its first protest on Wall Street to draw attention to the profiteering of AIDS drug manufacturers. Ever since, ACT UP has held a prominent position in HIV/AIDS public and political activism. Through ACT UP’s own video-documenting affinity group DIVA TV, many public spectacles protesting bureaucratic inaction are captured and shown in this documentary. There is no narration or script, only a timeline. This film powerfully offers the real thing: archival footage of marches, protests, speeches and meetings, including a magnificent speech by Vito Russo on the similarities between AIDS and war. Touching, factual, political and angry, this documentary shows the contribution ACT UP has made in fighting the scourge of AIDS.

More than just a historical account of ACT UP, this film shows how we can turn anger, fear and grief into action for positive change.

World AIDS Day Screenings   December 1, 2003
  International Center of Photography School . 
     1114 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street   New York City   all day screenings
    UNAIDS   JAKARTA  Indonesia .

3rd World Human Rights Art Festival    Athens Greece.     | website |
.December 6, 2003

New York City Screening       | website | post card |
Pioneer Theater    East Village  155 East 3rd Street at Ave. A   .  
Monday,  December 15, 2003  @  7:00 PM.      ticket sales donated to ACT UP

National Conference on Organized Resistance
January 24-25, 2004 on the campus of American University in Washington, D.C.     | website | .

.There are continuing screenings in Film Festivals, art galleries and museums, schools and conferences,
    but listings are no longer updated on this page.     Please see distribution information below.





Fight Back, Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP was produced and directed by James Wentzy and licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License  Creative Commons License   actupny.org/divatv

FREE for NON-PROFIT screenings and NON COMMERCIAL usage by students, advocates and artists when accompanied by SCREEN CREDITED ATTRIBUTION



Distribution Information

145 Ninth Street, #300
San Francisco, CA
94103-2636 USA
PH 415-703-8650
FAX 415-861-1404

Information Contact

            James Wentzy