A Queer Film Classic on John Greyson's controversial 1993 film musical about the AIDS crisis which combines experimental, camp musical, and documentary aesthetics while refuting the legend of Patient Zero, the male flight attendant accused in Randy Shilts' book And the Band Played On of bringing the AIDS crisis to North America. The film features the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who is working as a taxidermist at the Museum of Natural History in Toronto; seeking exhibits for his Hall of Contagion, Burton encounters the ghost of Patient Zero, and together, they set out to try to discover the truth about the origin of AIDS and restore Zero to life.
This book provides a guided tour of the film, looking at its engagement with both biomedical and populist discourses around AIDS in its first decade and with the political work undertaken by the queer community to provide support for HIV+ people and treatment for those with AIDS. It also delves into how Greyson, one of the most important figures in New Queer Cinema, combined experimental film aesthetics with a camp take on Hollywood genre films (both musical and horror) and the Canadian documentary film tradition while at the same time responding to Shilts' book and other discourses focused on placing blame for the AIDS crisis on an individual and a community.
Arsenal's Queer Film Classics series cover some of the most important and influential films about and by LGBTQ people.
An extensive and approachable piece of work ... The authors do not simply give us a guided tour of Zero Patience or the fascinating external narrative that comes with its release. They use the opportunity for multiple discussions, whether thoughtfully and concisely exploring the history of AIDS activism and community, or generally taking on Canadian queer filmmaking and Greyson's considerable contributions to it.
A gripping tale ... Passionate and smart.
-Andrew Holleran, Washington Post
Knabe and Pearson do a stellar job summarizing the political and populist discourse about AIDS in Canada in the early years of the disease.
-Quill and Quire
[Knabe and Pearson] offer through the lens of the film a concise and pointed history of the development of the AIDS crisis and the queer community's various responses to it in the 1980s and early 90s.
This book offers lots of fascinating background detail and teases out the complexity of its central conceit in a way that will undoubtedly add to the viewing experience.
-Eye on Film