AIDS-panicked New York and the darkest hour for gay people in Uganda are both profiled in a documentary film festival in north east England.
Now in its 19th year, the internationally acclaimed Sheffield Doc/Fest will be taking over the screens of Sheffield city centre for five days in June.
The festival will include 83 feature documentaries, 10 outdoor screenings and 27 shorts. Many films will be followed by a question and answer session by the filmmaker.
This years program features three films about gay culture, including one European premiere.
How to Survive a Plague explores Greenwich Village, New York during the mid 1980s, where the LGBT community was faced with the AIDS epidemic that claimed many lives. Not only were hospitals turning away AIDS victims, but the community was subject to a brutal backlash of homophobia, with the corpses of AIDS victims rejected by funeral parlors.
Driven by desperation, the gay community were forced to become change-making activists. Frustrated by a drug testing protocol that had not prioritised AIDS research and in which new drugs took up to a decade of testing before approval, the community mobilised through very public demonstrations, and by equipping themselves with the scientific knowledge to spearhead a completely new strategy towards drug development. This European premier is directed by David France.
The second in the sries, Call Me Kuchu, opens with a seemingly harmless gathering, celebrating a same-sex relationship. It soon becomes clear that everyone in attendance is risking their lives.
This is Uganda, where not only is homosexuality outlawed, but a witch-hunt is on to out the 'Kuchu' (Ugandan slang for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people).
American Christian evangelicals have dubbed Uganda Ground Zero – a testing ground for new, tougher anti-homosexuality legislation, proposing the death penalty for HIV positive men, and imprisonment for anyone not reporting Kuchu to the authorities.
The country’s first openly gay man, David Kato, is leading a small band of activists in fighting for their right to exist, amongst a public baying for blood. This UK premier is directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright.
The final film in the gay culture program is Love Free or Die.
When he was consecrated in 2003 (wearing a bulletproof vest) Gene Robinson became the Anglican Church’s first openly gay bishop.
It’s a job he didn’t seek, but one he now relishes. Robinson has spent the last decade preaching for inclusion, whilst being shunned by many of his fellow clergy.
Supported by his long-term partner Mark and loving daughters, Robinson is determined to charm whomever he is given access to, including President Obama, who selected him to open his inaugural events. Director Macky Alston uses Robinson’s story to explore the schism that continues to bitterly divide a church determinedly behind the times. Attracting hecklers and autograph seekers alike, Robinson’s message is a simple one: it is time to recognise that homosexuality and faith are not incompatible.
The festival is from 13 to 17 June. For further details visit Sheffield/Doc’s official website.
View the trailer of the festival here: