a film by Arthur J Bressan Jr
1985 | 81 mins | US
›› Buddies
the first cinematic feature to dramatise the AIDS crisis.
Buddies by Arthur J Bressan Jr A simple scenario can at times be the most effective. And this is one such instance, charting as-it-does the friendship that develops between Robert, a 32-year-old man with AIDS and David, a 25-year-old volunteer who agrees to become his buddy. As days go by and as their time together becomes longer and more meaningful, a tender relationship develops between the two men, as David begins to understand Robert's unapologetically political stance, to the point of parading outside the White House come the close of the film.

In short, this is but a variant on the odd-couple scenario and that of how two people can have such a profound effect on each others lives. On a deeper level however and in the directors' own words this marked "a complex look at a unique love that transcends pain, fear and even death." Yet it is more than that, given this landmark work dared to address the then taboo subject of AIDS and as a consequence, became the first cinematic feature to dramatise the AIDS crisis.

Sure signs of its shoestring budget are only too clear to see. But then, this film was remarkably scripted by writer and director Arthur J Bressan Jr in only five days and shot by all accounts in nine, being a highly personal project for Bressan who is on record as having questioned just how many sick and dead friends does it take, to make you want to do something? Unlike the US government, Bressan immediately went into action and alongside actors Geoff Edholm as Robert, David Schachter as his namesake, delivered a deeply moving work.

Sadly Bressan would eventually succumb to the virus himself. His legacy however remains his sheer determination to bring to the public attention the devastating consequences of the AIDS epidemic. And yet his cinematic swan song has all but vanished into the celluloid void, seemingly overshadowed by the like of An Early Frost, Parting Glances and Longtime Companion.

Little else remains to be said. Except to say that in having raised considerable funds for many an AIDS organisation, this feature equally gave credit to the Buddy Program itself and the valued work of a host of volunteers who provide both emotional and practical support to those living with AIDS.

Arthur J Bressan Jr. | 1943 - 1987 | Director of the first American feature film on the subject of the AIDS pandemic.
starring: Geoff Edholm, David Schachter, Damon Hairston, Joyce Korn, Billy Lux,
David Rose, Libby Saines, Susan Schneider, Tracy Vivat
Copyright 2004 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #017
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