Program 27: 120 Beats Per Minute (120 battements par minute)
Directed by Robin Campillo
With a deeply felt humanity, the vital 120 Beats Per Minute melds piercing docudrama with a passionate love story to deliver a ground-level view of AIDS advocacy group, ACT UP-Paris during the early ‘90s. From drenching public officials with balloons of fake blood, to invading high school classrooms to hand out condoms, the organization uses radical, sometimes deliberately shocking, methods (much like their American counterparts) to educate the public, effect change, and make the establishment stand up and take notice.
We’re allowed to be a fly-on-the-wall during the group’s weekly meetings, where there’s electricity in seeing the free flow of ideas as members argue over methods, update everyone with the latest research results, and plan their next moves. And we see it all through the eyes of a hunky new member named Nathan (Arnaud Valois). As he evolves from shy newbie to highly involved activist, Nathan ends up falling for militant founding member Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart). The two gradually learn to navigate their relationship (Sean is HIV-positive; Nathan is negative), facing the inevitable with all the love and courage they can muster.
Other members come into focus: there’s stubborn Sophie (Adèle Haenel), impassioned Helene and her young son Marco (Catherine Vinatier, Theophile Ray), and the group’s leader, Thibault (Antoine Reinartz); all are sensitively portrayed by the film’s impeccable ensemble.
Focusing on a brave group of men and women who won’t let disease or prejudice keep them from living their lives fully, director Robin Campillo (Eastern Boys) has crafted an exciting, joyful, and emotional film experience. An award-winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, 120 Beats Per Minute is funny and erotic, with a pounding heartbeat all its own. It’s a celebration of life, and for the desire to fight for each moment with all the strength you have.
— Adam Lubitow
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- GRAND PRIX, JURY PRIZE – Cannes Film Festival
- QUEER PALM, JURY PRIZE – Cannes Film Festival
- FIPRESCI PRIZE – Cannes Film Festival