The Silverdoc’s Festival featured The Other City, a documentary which exposes the AIDS/ HIV epidemic in DC
By Liz Weiss
Jose Antonio Vargas and Maureen Orth. Photo by Tony Powell.
The Other City, a raw and powerful documentary that grapples with the disastrous effects of the AIDS/ HIV epidemic in the DC area, premiered at the Newseum’s Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater on Tuesday evening. The award-winning filmmaker and DC native, Susan Koch was inspired to create the film after reading articles written by Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas. Koch and Vargas teamed up with producers Sheila Johnson and Michelle Freeman to produce a film that would not only shed light on the reality of HIV/ AIDS in the DC community, but would also promote a provocative discussion about the subject. Among the expansive crowd, filling nearly every seat in the theater, were Larry Kramer, avid AIDS activist, Melody Barnes, the White House’s director of domestic foreign policy, and Jeff Crowley, director of Office of National AIDS policy.
Neil Barrett and Susan Koch. Photo by Tony Powell.
After a few introductions from local AIDS activists, including a speech by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and film producer Sheila Johnson, the film was projected on screen—gradually unfolding the many obstacles, challenges, and heart-wrenching personalized accounts of the HIV/ AIDS epidemic locally. The film interlaced individual stories of HIV/ AIDS in DC with footage of caretakers, victims, family members, and activists, to reveal all those affected by HIV/ AIDS, and urge viewers to take action and confront the issue head on.