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Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt

5.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

As of 2004, a variety of drugs have been developed to resist, if not cure, AIDS--yet Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt remains as emotionally powerful as it was during the height of the crisis, when people were dying by the thousands every year. With a combination of photo-montages, interviews with friends and family members, home movies, and news footage, this 1989 documentary captures the grief of those who have survived victims of AIDS. It's wrenching to hear the mother of a hemophiliac boy describing giving him blood transfusions in the middle of the night, or seeing pictures of a former Olympic athlete with the daughter he fathered with a lesbian mother, or hearing a Naval officer describe his relief when he learned that he, like his dead lover, had the virus--that the stress of waiting was over. A moving combination of art and politics. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • "Then & Now" a new short film by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
  • Photo gallery
  • Vito Russo's ACT UP speech

Product Details

  • Actors: Dustin Hoffman, David Mandell, Suzi Mandell, Sallie Perryman, Vito Russo
  • Directors: Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein
  • Writers: Rob Epstein, Cindy Ruskin, Bobby McFerrin
  • Producers: B.Z. Petroff, Bill Couturié, Carol Baum
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 8, 2004
  • Run Time: 79 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001Y4LDM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,083 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt" on IMDb

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By J. Michael Click on October 16, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
This emotionally stunning film deservedly won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Friends and family tell the stories of five disparate individuals whose lives are lovingly represented by panels in the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt: David Mandell, Jr., an 11-year-old hemophiliac; Dr. Tom Waddell, Olympic athlete and organizer of the Gay Games; Robert Perryman, a former drug addict turned proud husband and father; Jeffrey Sevchik, the lover of film historian, author, and gay activist Vito Russo; and David C. Campbell, a gay "everyman" whose story is touchingly told by his dying partner, Lt. Commander Tracey Torrey. The threads of these persons' courageous battles with AIDS are interwoven with archival news footage detailing the history of the disease's spread throughout America, and examples of how the United States government and public did - or perhaps more accurately, often did not - respond to the growing crisis. The film ends with the surviving loved ones describing the experiences of making the Quilt panels, and then details the first national exhibition of the Quilt in Washington, D. C. in October 1987. (The Quilt was last displayed in Washington in 1996, and had grown to over twenty times the size shown here.)
The raw emotions of the storytellers are incredibly powerful in their purity and honesty; it's impossible not to be moved to tears as David Mandell's father speaks of his child's last Christmas, or Russo tells the story of visiting his partner's body in the morgue. The film footage is beautifully supported by Dustin Hoffman's eloquent narration (his voice has never been so convicted yet quietly subdued in any of his film roles), and hauntingly underscored by the music of Bobby McFerrin performed by Voicestra.
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Format: VHS Tape
I am probably one of the few people that has this on LaserDisc. I was extremely touched by the dedication to this video. It was self evident in the quality of the sound and video, as well as the choice of narrators and musical background.
The Times of Harvey Milk has probably topped this one, but the AIDS crisis has not gone away. Please ... please publish this one on DVD. Thanks.
rcc
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Format: DVD
Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman are two of the finest documentarians we have around today. From making one of the best documentaries ever, "The Times of Harvey Milk", to the cutting edge "Celluloid Closet", their movies chronicle grand times and the people that are behind those times. Another tour de force work is their response to the horrific AIDS crisis, in the movie "Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt".

Wanting to make a film that accompanied the amazing paneled quilt that was being created as a response to ignored AIDS epidemic. Epstein and Friedman decided to highlight the people behind the quilt. They read thousands of letters, met people, and selected seven stories to highlight, which make up the crux of the film. Sallie Perryman, who's husband drug use brought on the disease, to Vito Russo talking about his best friend, the people speak of their loved ones on film, and their ensuing sickness, with honesty and compassion. In addtion, the filmmakers included archival footage, tracing the development of the disease, in a somewhat shocking and insensitive way at first. By the time the quilt is unfolded, you are moved, and touched by these people's lives, so that if you didn't know anyone who was on the AIDS quilt, you knew seven people now.

Common Threads won the Academy award for best Documentary, and deservedly so. This a film that should be celebrated, and remembered, as a visual love note to all of those souls that we lost to AIDS.
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Format: DVD
Jeffrey Friedman and Bob Epstein ("The Celluloid Closet" and "The Times of Harvey Milk") in this documentary that won an Oscar for best documentary feature film in 1990 put a face on the AIDS epidemic. "Common Threads" focuses primarily on five individuals with AIDS: "Dr. Tom Waddell; Robert Perryman, a drug user; David Mandell, Junior, a hemophiliac who died at the young age of 12; Jeff Sevcik, whose lover was Vito Russo of "The Celluloid Closet" and a member of ACT-UP and David Campbell whose lover was Navy Commander Tracey Torrey (who made his own panel for the AIDS quilt). Just as important are these individuals' caretakers/story-tellers: Waddell's wife Sara Lewinstein, Perryman's wife Sally Perryman, David's mother, Campbell's lover Tracey Torrey and Sevcik's lover Vito Russo.

Interspersed with the lives and deaths of these individuals is news footage that begins with the reports of the first cases of AIDS or GRID, as it was first called, in San Francisco and New York. The numbers of new cases and deaths grow geometrically for years while the government does precious little to fund research about this killer disease. In case anyone who was alive at the time has forgotten, President Reagan gets singled out for doing essentially nothing.

Included on the DVD are commentary by the producer/directors, the ACT-UP speech by Vito Russo and interviews with Doctors Marcus Conant and Selma Dritz and Cleve Jones, the person who started the AIDS guilt. of San Francisco. Dr. Dritz tells a horrific story of being at the bedside of an early victim when he died. When she contacted his parents somewhere in the heartland of America, they told her to do whatever she wanted to do with the body, that they essentially were through with their son.
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