Inside Out 2009: Positive Thinking
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Inside Out 2009: Positive Thinking

Photo courtesy of GAT Productions.

Sometimes, thematic trends at Inside Out are unexpected. Last year, gay surfers were all the rage. This year, gay parenting seems to be all the rage. But AIDS stories always have been a mainstay at the fest, and probably always will be.
This afternoon, a duo of docs about two very different AIDS activists. First up is Sex Positive, which tells the all-but-forgotten tale of Richard Berkowitz, a one-time S/M hustler who pioneered the concept of safe sex as AIDS prevention at a time when it was unheard of for gay men to wear condoms. A fascinating figure, Berkowitz became very unpopular due to his then-belief that HIV’s cause was lifestyle-based and multifactorial, and has since been relegated to a footnote in the history of AIDS activism. Sex Positive, directed by Daryl Wein, does a great job at presenting the 1970s gay scene in New York, and makes the most of a variety of interview subjects, including Canada’s favourite porn star, Michael Lucas.
Closer to home is Stubblejumper, which tells the story of Doug Wilson, a Saskatchewan poet and gay-rights activist who went on to be the country’s first openly gay federal political candidate (for the NDP in Toronto’s Rosedale riding). Sadly, he had to step down before election day after he and his partner, musician and novelist Peter McGehee, were diagnosed as HIV+. Stubblejumper combines archival footage with new interviews and dramatic re-enactments, and although the feel is definitely a bit budget, the film has enough artistry and heart to keep you invested in its story.
Sex Positive screens at 2:15 p.m. at the Isabel Bader; Stubblejumper screens at 4:30 p.m. at the Isabel Bader.