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Film screening for Aids Day

Saturday, 8th December, 2018

Regional Art Gallery’s (left) Niccy Bugeja and (right) Jade Kerin with ACON’s Regional Outreach Development Manager Ted Cook. PICTURE: Callum Marshall Regional Art Gallery’s (left) Niccy Bugeja and (right) Jade Kerin with ACON’s Regional Outreach Development Manager Ted Cook. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

A screening of the film BPM will take place tonight at the Regional Art Gallery as part of the World Aids Day campaign.

The film, which has won many awards including the Grand Prix at Cannes, is about a group of Parisian activists who fought for greater recognition and action to combat HIV/AIDS in the eighties and early nineties.

The screening is being put together by the Gallery, the Far West Local Health District and the New South Wales organisation ACON which specialises in HIV prevention and support for the LGBTQI community. 

Regional Outreach Development Manager for ACON Ted Cook said the film highlighted the stigmas and battles those suffering from HIV/AIDS had to endure to bring greater attention to the disease and action in combatting it.

“BPM tells the story of a very particular point in history that was an absolute crisis, and is about the early days of the Paris chapter of a community activist organisation called Act Up,” he said. 

“Act Up has, and had, chapters all over the world including in Australia. Their work was about raising the visibility of HIV and the AIDS epidemic with governments, media and through really interesting and creative direct action.

“This was a community of people whose friends and partners were dying every week. So they needed to do something really urgently because the governments at the time, across the globe, weren’t doing enough. 

“The pharmaceutical companies were focusing on profits rather than helping people save their lives (as well.) So it was a time of great wreckage and trauma.

“So we can contrast and compare that with the Australian experience where we were able to build much more pragmatic relationships with state and federal governments.”

Mr Cook said that while today’s society and the Australian experience wasn’t as bad as what the Parisians had to deal with in the eighties and nineties, it was still important to remember their efforts and the continuing effects of the disease.

“Many people are still carrying that trauma of having lost (someone they knew.) We lost eleven thousand people in Australia, most of those young gay men,” he said.

“HIV thrives on environments of discrimination. People who are heavily stigmatised are the ones most likely to be at risk of HIV. 

“It’s a social disease so there’s a really direct link between the human rights of a society and the HIV burden of that same society.

“(Even though) HIV remains one of the most stigmatised illnesses in the world today, the story is very different now.

“People are no longer dying of AIDS- related illness, they’re living long-term and well with HIV. 

“In fact, we have a generation of people who are getting older with HIV, which is not something we ever imagined we’d have, which is an incredible thing. 

“Also, one of the great things about the Australian response, and where we have progressed over the years, is (the coming together of different groups) to work towards ending HIV transmission.

“So, community organisations like ACON, clinical partners like the Far West Local Health District and the Broken Hill Sexual Health Clinic, research partners that’ve been able to build the evidence, and community spaces like the Regional Art Gallery to bring them all together. 

“There’s such a profound impact that art has had on AIDS activism with people like Keith Haring and other artist activists who’ve wanted to tell their story through art. 

“So it’s beautiful and it feels very right to be having it here at the Regional Art Gallery.”

The cost is free, however, donations are welcome on night for the Ending HIV Red Ribbon Appeal which aims to eliminate transmission of HIV in NSW by 2020.

If you, or anyone you know, have any questions about HIV you can call or text Ted Cook at 0419 848 417 or email him at tcook@acon.org.au.

Information and resources will also be available on the night, and are also available at local services like Headspace and the Sexual Health Clinic at the FWLHD. 

 

WHAT: Film Screening of BPM for World AIDS Day

WHEN: Today, doors open at 6pm, movie screening from 6:30pm

WHERE: Regional Art Gallery

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