On Tour: Erie, PA

8 Apr

April 6th, 2014  | United in Anger: A History of ACT UP | Erie, PA

The great adventure began inauspiciously on Saturday, April 4th, when the flight from New York was late getting into Detroit and I had to run from one end of the Detroit airport to the other. I made the flight to Erie with 2 minutes to spare. That evening though the Greater Erie Alliance for Equality held a lovely reception for me at the Alta Cucina restaurant in Erie.

I met about 25 members of the community, including one woman who was married to a man named Jim Hubbard. I had a delightful time talking to Brandon, David, David, Rex, Mike, Kevin, Katie, Mary, Leah, Josh, Daisy and a lot of people whose names I promised to remember, but didn’t.

The next day began with a long discussion on film with Dan Sullivan at WQLN. It was for a film show to be broadcast later, so we talked about a wide range of filmic topics including my early work such as Stop the Movie (Cruising) and Elegy in the Streets. It was Dan’s first radio interview and he asked interesting questions that I didn’t have pat answers to. I really enjoy an interview like that because it makes me consider what I’m doing and saying. Also, it was a rare opportunity to talk about work other than United in Anger and speak about how my experimental film work influenced and shaped United in Anger.

The screening later that day in the charming Taylor Little Theater had a small audience, but we had a lively discussion about the AIDS crisis and other aspects of HIV. Several college-age women spoke about their experiences with AIDS education and they were not always what one would expect. In one Pennsylvania small town there was no AIDS education; in a suburb of Buffalo, another young woman had extensive education. One woman recounted the story of her aunt, a high school gym teacher who insisted on doing AIDS education in her high school during the 90s. She was told that she would have to do abstinence only education and she refused and told the kids the truth. The one man in the audience who had lived through the early crisis in Erie spoke movingly about the stigma, the isolation, the silence and the lack of information that local people with AIDS endured.

Afterwards, Christine Olivier and her boyfriend Anthony took me on a tour of Erie. I especially wanted to see Presque Isle State Park, which is a magnificent peninsula jutting into Lake Erie and wrapping back around Erie and a very important birding site on the Atlantic Flyway. I even identified a bird I had never seen before – a Bonaparte’s Gull. Then we had dinner at a picturesque spot overlooking the lake and had a spirited discussion about travel, immigration and film.

Oops, I forgot to take pictures! Next stop I promise I will.

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Jim Hubbard.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.

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