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BPM
BPM

It’s time to act up and fall in love.

The French film “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” will screen five times at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria’s Kaufman Arts District this weekend, Friday, Jan. 26 through Sunday, Jan. 28.

Directed by Jeff Reichert, who has also done the documentaries “Gerrymandering” and “Remote Area Medical,” the feature film takes place in Paris in the 1990s. Activists – mostly male members of the local ACT UP group who are gay and HIV-positive — battle to contain and cure the virus. A life-or-death urgency pervades, but a tender love story unfolds amid protests, debates and ecstatic dance parties.

Tickets are $15, and the schedule follows: Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 27 at 3 p.m.; Jan. 27 at 6 p.m.; Jan. 28 at 3 p.m.; and Jan. 28 at 6 p.m.

It’s fiction, but the movie re-creates some historical scenes. (The director and his co-screenwriter, Philippe Mangeot, participated in many rallies in France during that decade.) The opening scene is a protest-gone-bad after an angry group – some clad in T-shirts emblazoned with “Silence = Death” and pink triangle patches — disrupts a medical convention by throwing fake blood at a public health official and then handcuffing him to a post in a lecture hall.

The action is an epic fail that creates bad PR, but the activists regroup and continue their guerrilla-style attacks on corporate offices and public spaces.

Eventually, Sean, who is HIV-positive and dangerously thin, meets new ACT UP member Nathan, who is not infected. Their romance is sealed with a first kiss during a demonstration. Soon thereafter, the couple is in bed together, trading stories of their sexual exploits and discussing ways to be intimate without spreading diseases.

A few other scenes depict male-on-male sexual acts and seduction. They appear somewhat randomly in a way that shocks and drives home the stress of dating during the height of the pre-treatment AIDS/HIV epidemic.

BPM” made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017. Since then it has shown at the New Zealand International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. It currently holds a 99 percent approval rating on the open-source review website Rotten Tomatoes.

ACT UP, which is the acronym for “AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power,” was founded in New York City in 1989. It quickly grew into a powerful force with branches around the world. The group was famous (and infamous) for holding high-conflict marches during which members would splatter fake blood around major cities, block off streets with their bodies, and scream at passers-by about the need for more government funding for AIDS-related drugs. The tactics aimed to convince the establishment, namely politicians and pharmaceutical companies, of the cause’s urgency.

 

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