Tag: activism

Sex Positive


Sex Positive (2008)
★★★ / ★★★★

Prior to this film, I didn’t know who Richard Berkowitz was. I decided to watch the documentary because I’m always interested in learning more about diseases and their impact in society. In “Sex Positive,” directed by Daryl Wein, the focus was on Berkowitz’ contribution in promoting safe sex in order to protect everyone, especially the members of the gay community, from transmitting different factors that could promote AIDS. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the credit he deserved. What I enjoyed about this movie was it was essentially about activists of the LGBT community disagreeing about elements of a certain issue–the mechanisms regarding how one can get the infection, prevention, and the relationship between promiscuity and the epidemic. Most of the documentaries I’ve seen about AIDS and homosexuality were from heterosexuals’ perspective so it was a nice to observe and listen to the issue from a different angle. The documentary felt personal and sometimes too revealing because we got to learn about Berkowitz’ sexual history. There were some outtakes in which he was reluctant to talk about his history with S&M because he wanted to focus on the issue of activism and promoting health. Those outtakes were important for me to see because it showed me that Berkowitz was more than hustler. He deeply cared about his community and he was willing to go great lengths in promoting safe sex, sex positivism, which was the middle-ground between two camps: anti-sex (celibacy) and pro-sex (sex without using protection at all). He also highlighted the roles of our choices and our personal responsibilities in terms of sex, that our lives are in our hands and we should always be aware of the consequences. However, I thought the documentary was a little too short and too quick with the facts. Specifically, I wanted to know more about progress (if any) of promoting safe sex in the late 80’s. I felt as though the movie only covered the early 80’s up and the early 90’s. I also wanted to know more about the papers Berkowitz published about sex and the LGBT community while he was in college although the movie did spotlight the fascinating pamphlet “How to Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach.” Toward the end, Berkowitz providing insight by revealing certain statistics was simply icing on the cake. “Sex Positive” is a solid documentary with a very interesting subject and I highly recommend it. I just think it needed an extra thirty to forty minutes to develop some ideas so it wouldn’t have felt as rushed.

The Sea Inside


The Sea Inside (2004)
★★★ / ★★★★

This picture is based on the true story of Ramón Sampedro and his campaign in support of euthanasia which lasted for thirty years. Written and directed by Alejandro Amenábar, although the issue the film tried to tackle is controversial and serious, he’s smart enough to make the film somewhat uplifting so it doesn’t feel at all heavy-handed. Javier Bardem made me feel so much for his character because of his willingness to die with whatever dignity he has left. Being a quadriplegic, he claims that his life should be treated as a right and not an obligation. Therefore, just like any other right, he should be allowed to give up his right to live and not be forced to stay alive by the government and other groups who oppose euthanasia. I thought the most interesting scenes in the film consisted of Bardem interacting with three characters: his lawyer who has her own share of problems that is similar to Bardem (Belén Rueda), a local woman who falls for Bardem (Lola Dueñas) and a nephew that he sees as his own son (Tamar Novas). Each of those three characters are compelling because even though they have their own opinion regarding Sampedro’s situation, not all of them are able to express their complete thoughts. It’s up to the audiences to interpret the three characters’ positions when they’re on their own or not interacting with Bardem. I also enjoyed the fact that both sides of the subject of euthanasia are able to express their arguments. Personally, I support euthanasia because I believe in our individual rights to do whatever we want with our bodies, especially when we’re in a situation where we no longer want to continue to live. But there were arguments here and there that made me question my own beliefs because we are shown that the issue of euthanasia goes beyond moral and legal issues. This is a rich film because its writing has substance that works on multiple levels and the characters have subtlety that will otherwise be missed if one is not invested in the story. I recommend this film to everyone, whether one may or may not support euthanasia, because it offers no easy answer regarding which side is “right.” It’s main goal is to simply show one man’s life and what he stood for.