Positively Groundbreaking: Cinematic Reflections on World AIDS Day

Posted on December 1, 2010

 Over the years, ITVS has been responsible for producing ahead-of-their-time films about HIV-AIDS and LGBT issues. In honor of World AIDS Day, we wanted to highlight a few of the documentaries that have helped raise awareness about one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.


Lance Loud! A Death in an American Family 
Decades before reality programming took over primetime television, PBS made television history with the documentary series An American Family. Lance Loud, the eldest son, inspired and shocked a generation of viewers as the first openly gay character on TV. Lance Loud! A Death in an American Family examines a life of quiet inspiration that speaks volumes about pop culture, sexuality, fame, and family.


Positive: Life with H.I.V. 
According to polls, one in every three Americans knows someone who is living with or who has died of HIV/AIDS. Positive is a frank, moving, and realistic look at real-life issues that confront those infected and affected by this virus.


Travis is the story of the fight to save the life of a remarkable young boy living with AIDS. Filmed over the course of three years, the documentary chronicles Travis Jefferies’s daily life in the Highbridge community of the South Bronx, where he lives with his grandmother and primary caregiver, Mrs. Geneva Jefferies. It is a story of love and courage in the face of an ever-changing enemy — the AIDS virus.


Black Is … Black Ain’t 
Marlon Riggs’s final film was a powerful critique of sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, colorism, and cultural nationalism in the black family, church, and other black institutions. The film brings multiple perspectives into focus as Riggs himself lies dying of AIDS and imagining a future in which differences unite rather than divide the black community.


For the past 15 years, Nguyen Van Hung, once a homeless drug addict, has dedicated his life to helping street children survive AIDS in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Teacher is the story of his fight against an epidemic that claims its victims by the millions, and of the innocent children and teenagers trapped in a global nightmare. 


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