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Why I chose gay dancers to tell the story of the AIDS crisis, says film director

Why I chose gay dancers to tell the story of the AIDS crisis, says film director

There are many films documenting the effect of the AIDS crisis in the 80s, but almost none of them have done so like new film Test.

A group of young dancers deal with the competitive, erotic world of dance and the then unknown dangers of AIDS simultaneously.

Director Chris Mason Johnson sat down with Gay Star News to discuss his dance background which inspired the film, and why it was so hard to make.

Johnson revealed to GSN his film about AIDS is actually a very uplifting one, something audiences have learned not to expect.

‘It’s a very hopeful and uplifting film,’ he said.

‘That’s one of the challenges that we’ve had in marketing is that when people think about this subject they think about a certain kind of dark, depressing film and that’s not what Test is.’

Johnson’s history as a dancer informed the film, as the male dancers take centre stage with several erotic and exciting dance sequences throughout the film.

‘I had a dance background so I was drawing from a lot of personal experience,’ he said.

‘Dance is all about the body, you see the body in these two contrasting ways. An object of beauty, very erotic and beautiful and then that same body is threatened by the disease.

‘I wanted to dramatize was the way in those early years young men who weren’t comfortably out of the closet, weren’t talking about AIDS, so dancers were the perfect choice. They are not actors, in their job they don’t speak.’

Johnson also spoke about how Test was a unique gay film, because it moved away from gay characters we are used to seeing.

‘I think one of the things we like about TEST is because the characters are gay but they’re are not stereotypes.

‘I think we’ve made a huge amount of progress but I think there’s still one way the mainstream is comfortable with gay people being portrayed and that’s the clown and the court jester and I’m kind of tired of that.

‘I do think it’s easier to cast a straight actor in a gay role. It becomes a badge of honour, it gives them status.

Ultimately, Johnson wants Test to speak for itself.

‘This is a movie for people who love dance,’ he said.

‘You don’t get to see that very often especially with male dancers. You’ll see world class dancers from dance companies doing really sexy, exciting work.’

Check out the trailer for Test here