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More Reviews Still Around

More Reviews – Still Around

“‘Still Around’ demonstrates that although HIV/AIDS has been thriving for over 30 years now, the creative spirit and communal resilience that characterizes San Francisco’s response to AIDS is still around too. The 15 short films–each in their own distinct style and tone—together forge a unified collective that showcases the role that the arts must continue to play as we fight against AIDS. From paying tribute to the extraordinary work of San Francisco General Hospital WARD 86, the country’s oldest HIV/AIDS care unit, to inviting us into an intimate subcultural ritual of love and healing commemorating one person’s HIV-positive anniversary, to reminding us of the simple beauty in pronouncing oneself gay and alive amidst a history of death and dying, these bold and beautiful short films merit our viewing.

This is a film for all people interested in how the arts make a difference in our lives, and how people, in this case the expansive and diverse people of the great city of San Francisco, work together to keep their communities alive and empowered. This wonderful collection deserves to be housed in our campus libraries, screened at our film festivals, and circulated among our own various communities.” David Román, Professor of English and American Studies, University of Southern California, author of ACTS of INTERVENTION: Performance, Gay Culture and AIDS, and O SOLO HOMO: The New Queer Performance.

“While it is imperative for us to know our history, it is almost more vital that we see our now, given how AIDS has become so devastatingly absent in our images and politics but not our communities and bodies. ‘Still Around’ insists that AIDS is here and now: with creativity, insight, urgency, and poetry. Over thirty years into this epidemic, this films is a much needed political and artistic intervention that connects us to our past while picturing our complex and ever changing present.

Given the spate of new films focusing upon the history of ACTUP/AIDS activism circa and a new-found fascination for the now old new queer cinema that was borne from AIDS’ sorrow, anger, and community, it is a pleasure to get to also see a new film, ‘Still Around,’ that both looks at the legacy of AIDS without the safety and nostalgia of distance. A beautiful cultural production with sharp political commentary and profound personal expression ‘Still Around’ links fifteen original, diverse shorts together and reminds us that AIDS is a living, breathing phenomenon of our now.” Alexandra Juhasz, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, Pitzer College, or AIDS TV: Identity, Communtiy and Alternative Video (Duke 1995)

“The shorts collection ‘Still Around’ admonishes us that despite improved treatment AIDS and its social effects have not gone away, but also that those living with the disease continue to live vital and complicated lives–they are ‘still around’. Ranging from abstract dance and poetry to tours of the clinical and social spaces, ‘Still Around’ provides glimpses into the everyday challenges and hopeful solutions crafted by the diverse people engaged in the epidemic. The shorts have uniformly high production values and the editors provide thoughtful and visually unified transitions that create an arc through the many different ways filmmakers and subjects chose to represent their points of view. The individual pieces stand alone as learning texts, and the whole collection works well as a kaleidoscope of historical and contemporary viewpoints on the social costs of an epidemic.” Cindy Patton, Professor of Sociology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Canada

“In an era when HIV/AIDS is so often marginalized from public discourse or considered a matter of a historical crisis now past, ‘Still Around’ presents a powerful collection of testimonies about living with HIV/AIDS in the fourth decade of the pandemic. Through their frank honesty and clear-sighted courage, the film’s diverse witnesses share remarkable stories of hope, survival and community. Some of the most powerful moments in the film occur when people living with HIV/AIDS come together with family members, friends and their community to forge genuine opportunities to bear witness to the complex challenges and struggles of their lives. In particular, the film attends to the imperative to speak across the generations impacted by the pandemic. The impressive diversity of perspectives in this short film collection makes Still Around a perfect teaching tool for a wide range of courses, from public health to psychology to communication.” Roger Hallas, Associate Professor of English, Co-Director of LGBT Studies, Syracuse University, Author of Reframing Bodies: AIDS, Bearing Witness and the Queer Moving Image

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Still Around

Still Around

82′, color, USA, 2011
A feature length compilation of 15 short films
DVD includes: Closed Captions and Chapter Markers

Executive Producers: Marc Smolowitz and Jörg Fockele

File under: All Films, Health, HIV/AIDS, Home Video, Homepage, LGBT Studies, Women Studies


Commemorating the 30-year anniversary of the epidemic in 2011, The HIV Story Project, a San Francisco based film collective, commissioned and produced 15 short films that portray people living with HIV/AIDS from the San Francisco Bay Area – a region that has been deeply affected by the disease. The end result is “Still Around,” a feature length compilation that weaves a diverse slate of stories into one powerful video AIDS quilt of our times. From straight forward vérité documentary, to spoken words piece, dance film or experimental short anything goes. Each piece is 4-5 minutes in length and tells a personal story in a truthful and forthright manner.

Connecting 16 of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most established as well as emerging directors with 15 individuals who are living with HIV/AIDS, the voices of women, men, transgender, gay and straight, young and old, and of many ethnic backgrounds come together to paint an unmatched portrait of how people thrive and survive in the face of long term illness.

Featuring 15 Short Films

Hoping Wishing Praying directed by Sade Huron
An experimental short illuminating the intensely personal poem “What’s Inside of Me” by spoken word artist Roxanne Hanna Ware.

Blur directed by Amir Jaffer
Dr. Richard Jones, a retired optometrist, recalls homophobia and being shunned by friends soon after the AIDS epidemic began.

Instant Dad directed by Rick Osmon
“Instant Dad” reveals the filmmaker’s struggle and determination to live through the height of the AIDS epidemic when he unexpectedly became the legal guardian for his 10 year‐old nephew.

Ward 86 directed by Debra A. Wilson
After an unknown virus hits the San Francisco gay community in the 80’s Ali, a social worker and activist, was impelled to devote her life’s work to HIV/AIDS.

Secrets of a Sister directed by Anne Siegel
Sister Vicious Power Hungry Bitch of the Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence spills the beans.

Paws directed by Tim Kulikowski & Ian Wolfley
“Paws” explores the relationship between Richard, a spirited long‐term AIDS survivor and his best friend—a playful dog named Dexter.

Full Circle directed by Stuart Gaffney
While living in a sleepy Northern California town, Elaine is shocked to learn of her unexpected HIV diagnosis with her fiancé by her side.

Ours directed by Robert Dekkers
“Ours” intimately examines the universality of our need to touch and be touched‐ both physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Ritual directed by Jörg Fockele
One man’s journey to coping with his HIV infection through a hooking ritual.

Construct directed by Daniel Cardone
A former meth addict reconstructs his life and physical self after a bacterial infection destroyed his face.

To Live directed by Emmanuelle Antolin
From the roots of injustice to the seeds of disease, “To Live” is the journey of one man’s life struggle on the flipside of the American dream.

Tita directed by S. Leo Chiang
Tita Aida, HIV/AIDS‐educator‐activist‐superstar for the queer Asian & Pacific Islander community, is still fabulous, and still kicking ass.

I’m Gonna Be Here directed by Deborah Craig
An HIV-positive mother and grandmother who now works with other HIV positive women to help guide them through the ups and downs of their journey living with the virus.

Tell Me directed by Véronica Duport Deliz
Through the lens of his camera, a man discovers a path to discussing his HIV status with an unexpected face‐to‐face encounter.

Sorrow & Joy directed by Marc Smolowitz
“Sorrow & Joy” tells the story of Alic Shook ‐‐ a 30 year‐old trans, gay man who is a writer, competitive swimmer, and health educator.


“Gay or straight, HIV-positive or -negative, man or woman or trans-man or trans-woman, two things are true: we are all human beings, and we all have a story to tell.  ‘Still Around’  is a collection of fifteen stories told in short films about HIV/AIDS and hope, produced by the HIV Story Project.

Other films have tackled the HIV/AIDS crisis in various ways, including the standard documentary format which can be very informative. However, there is something special about seeing individuals whose lives, and the lives of their friends and loved ones, have been affected by the disease. The films in ‘Still Around’ are filled with the ghosts of those who are not still around, but the survivors fill us with hope, even as we feel their sorrow and joy. Congratulations to the filmmakers of this project, and thank you to the people who put their lives on film.

Level/Use: Suitable for high school classes and college courses in cultural anthropology, medical anthropology, anthropology of sex and gender, and American studies, as well as for general audiences.” Jack David Eller, Review of “Still Around”, A Short Film Compilation. Anthropology Review Database

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