Voices from the Front is a powerful film about the first era in AIDS activism. It documents early non-violent warfare waged against our government’s criminally slow response to the emerging epidemic. But rather than coming across as a trial, agit-prop or a bore, the film unfolds like a circus of joyous political theatrics. Audiences want to step out of their chairs and start dancing in the streets while singing “Health! Care! / Is a right/ Health care is a right!”
Screening Voices from the Front during AIDS Education Month was no simple cineaste task. Although we filled the room with popcorn, pizza, and soda pop, watching this documentary isn’t like an ordinary Wednesday night at the movies. Ever since Voices came to the attention of the AIDS Library we’ve heard the movie called everything from exhilarating to “a tool box for changing the world.”
Scribe Video Center, a community-media education organization, hosted the screening. Scribe Program Coordinator, Boone Nguyen, spoke to us about Scribe resources ranging from filmmaking classes to community documentary projects. Adam Feldman, librarian at the AIDS Library, introduced the film as part of AIDS Education Month. John Bell, a Treatment Education Activist Combating HIV, has long seen the power behind what this film represents. He brought this screening to AIDS Education Month and he brought his insights and passion for this movie to the night of the event.
Dooley House in Camden brought the largest segment of the audience. However, the room was peppered with AEM volunteers, former members of ACT-UP, medical students, and the curious. After the credits rolled, John Bell lead a moving discussion among the collected strangers about breaking down the barriers that keep us as citizens from making positive change together.