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
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.
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
Cindy Patton, Professor of Sociology,
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Canada
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)
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