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LIVING & DYING

Switzerland, 1990 (MIFF 1991, Documentaries)

Director: Claudia Acklin

Claudia Acklin's complex and intelligent documentary examines the passionate life and turbulent times of Swiss television personality Andre Ratti, who caused a sensation on July 2nd 1985 with his statement to the media - "I'm 50 years old, I'm a homosexual and I've got AIDS."

Raid's remarks were made to help launch the Swiss Association for Support to AIDS Sufferers and really rocked what many regard as one of the world's most blandly conservative societies. By admitting to being both homosexual and ill, Ratti was touching on two fundamental taboos sex and death. The reactions around him could only be angry and violent.

Not that Ratti saw himself as a pure and innocent, unjustly "wronged" victim, as has been the (perhaps necessary and often true) case with so many previous accounts of AIDS, which present homogenised, "just-like-you-and-me" bastions of bourgeois normalcy, telling "all", revealing little. The very title to Acklin's film derives from her subject's comment "I like living, I like dying", which suggests at the very least, a contradictory character, prepared to voice more than one standard view on a given matter.

Many views on many matters are aired by Ratti, his friends and colleagues, in this quite confronting account of how the topical disease transforms not only one individual but all those around him. The results are candid, provocative, informative and yes, in a very clear-eyed sense, moving. (PK)

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