Film Spotlight: FAST TRIP, LONG DROP (1993)

“Fast Trip, Long Drop” is a touching personal diary of Gregg Bordowitz, an angry young man afflicted with AIDS, and how the disease has influenced him as a video artist and political activist. Unusual in its format, docu freely and sometimes absorbingly mixes autobiographical musings on daily existence with AIDS, his Jewish identity and family life and the joys and sorrows of political involvement.

In 1988, Gregg Bordowitz, a New York video-maker, tested HIV positive, and set about making an autobiographical documentary. It’s a freewheeling, funny, irate, provocative look at attitudes – his, ours, the media’s – towards AIDS; at how one might ‘live’ with such an immediate, persistent awareness of imminent mortality. On one level, the film’s ‘documentary’ aspects are conventional: Bordowitz speaks confessionally and straight-to-camera about his sex life and Jewish heritage, discusses his illness and his assumption of gay identity with his mother and stepfather, and mulls over the impossibility of hope with his support group. All this, however, is intercut not only with archive footage of various risky activities (car stunts, a man juggling a baby atop a skyscraper) and with sour satirical sketches featuring Borodowitz’s surly Alter Allesman and various broadcasters, doctors and activists played by one Bob Huff. The resulting mélange, faintly reminiscent of early Makavejev, is troubled and troubling, occasionally exhilarating, and admirably honest; more surprisingly, against the odds, Bordowitz finally steers us towards some sort of gentle hope.

Combining personal and collective history, Bordowitz chronicles the gay community’s response to government inaction on AIDS during the Reagan and Bush administrations, voicing his frustrations not only with the government’s policy, the medical establishment and media coverage, but also with institutionalized gay activism.


This Thursday, 3/7 at 5:00 p.m. there is will be a free screening by the Cinema Studies program as well as follow up discussion of Gregg Bordowitz’s Fast Trip, Long Drop (1993, 54 min) in room 2300 of University Hall. A reception will follow in the University Gallery (UH 1220) led by Professor Keller. 

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