REVIEW: Patient Zero an intriguing, horrifying documentary

The demonization of Patient Zero — known as flight attendant Gaetan Dugas — has dominated gay culture for decades.

Dugas, who was based in Halifax, was known as the man who brought the world AIDS, but to say he was the first to spread the virus so immensely is disingenuous.

In a time after the Stonewall riots, when gays were celebrating liberation, Dugas was refusing to stop his own promiscuity without solid proof gay sex was giving men AIDS.

This intense, incredibly heartbreaking documentary of the gay scene in the 1980’s, from jubilation to sadness to rebuilding, is directed with ferocity by Laurie Lynd. It’s one of the most affecting documentaries of the festival.

When Dugas gave blood samples and helped with scientific research into the cause, he was then vilified as Patient Zero. The people he worked with, those he knew and even scientists and academics paint a new portrait of Dugas here.

This is a bleak documentary, and it’s a difficult watch, but for anyone seeking a culture shock and to actually learn something about the gay plague that almost wiped out a minority population, it’s important to see this film.

It’s a beautiful tearjerker, and it’s one of the most fierce films of the year.

4.5/5 Stars

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