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Saved by the introduction of protease inhibitors in the mid-1990s, many HIV positive men needed to rebuild the lives they thought they d never be able to live. In an effort to make peace with the virus inside them, some migrated to California's Palm Springs in the hope of finding a healing desert oasis. But is this environment, with its tolerant population and constant sunshine, enough to heal their shattered bodies and dispel their lingering grief?
Desert Migration fills in a missing gap. The film does a phenomenal job of educating both young and old generations on the affects HIV has on the body, soul, and bank account during a time when HIV is easily controlled. --Out Front Magazine
...despite the stigma that still exists in our society about living with HIV and AIDS, this film provides a portrait of people who have never given up --Austin360
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I remember the 90's. The approval of AZT. AIDS becomes the number one cause of death for U.S. men ages 25 to 44 and then a few years later, AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for all Americans ages 25 to 44. Protease inhibitors, for the most part, slows the number of deaths but have the side effect of some patients becoming drug resistant. There is an uptick in the number of minorities dying from AIDS.
I mention what I remember from the 80's and 90's because it was a full-blown AIDS crisis that wiped out an entire generation of men - the impact very similar to the VIetnam War.
This documentary, which is brilliantly and beautifully shot, is about thirteen men who survived the 80's and 90's. They were infected during that time period and assumed that they would not be alive for more than a few more years. Science advanced far enough along so that treatment regimens were working, prolonging their lives. But while they lived, they were constantly surrounded by the death of those whose immune systems were too far gone or didn't respond in the same manner to the drugs available. As they grew older, they faced other challenges - some physical, some psychological, and some social.
Now in their 50's, 60's, and 70's they reflect back on those two particular decades, what that time period meant to them, their migration from New York, San Francisco, and Miami to Palm Springs, and then what the current here and now means to them...Is the AIDS crisis over? Judging by the group of 13 men who speak about it, it's not over.
Hands down, I don't think that I've ever seen a documentary so visually moving as this one is. You could have literally, muted the dialog and you'd still have gotten a lot of meaning from the film. The director and the photographer were phenomenal at capturing each man's moment by moment feeling with the backdrop of a beautiful desert which seemed to parallel the feelings of the subjects.
Each of the 13 men had a story to tell. Each story was unique but had some common themes running through them: the past (specifically the loss of those they loved and cared for), the present (aging with an unpredictable disease and the ptsd type of feelings they were still experiencing), and the future (dying alone).
I'm glad this movie was made while there were still people to talk to who lived through it. So many were lost in the prime of their lives. I watched this twice in one weekend, and I intend to watch it again.
As a resident of PS and a huge proponent of the diversity the town represents, I think this is a stellar outing by Mr. Cardone. There are so many facets to this story...and the individual stories of the men in Desert Migration, who weave a tapestry of commonalities, but with a few wild threads that come...somewhere!
Let's hope that this Gay Mecca will not be totally overrun by tourists in the next decade. There are indicators that seem to think that notion is not too far-fetched.
Until then, and hopefully, forever, let this be a place for anyone on this earth to come and feel the love. Regardless of your status...or anything else.