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Synopsis

DIRECTOR: Victoria Midwinter Pitt
Australia 2007 57min

JHB: SAT 6 @ 8pm (PANEL) TUES 9 @ 9.15pm
CPT: WED 17 @ 7pm (PANEL) SAT 20 @ 6.30pm

In 1982 a visiting New York gardener booked into Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital. Not knowing what caused his mystery ‘cancer’ or how to treat it, the doctors released the gardener back onto the headily promiscuous streets of gay Sydney. He was the first patient diagnosed with AIDS in Australia. Faced with an epidemic and in unchartered waters, the government did the unthinkable: they involved the most afflicted communities, recruiting Federal Ministers, tabloid editors, nuns, drug dealers and sex workers. This unconventional committee accepted human nature and embarked on a series of highly successful shock-value awareness campaigns. Although this controversial decision was much maligned at the time, the Australian approach saved thousands of lives. A fascinating and timely lesson, this thorough documentary charts the positive effects of pragmatism and practicality that won over outrage and misplaced morality.

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