Program 24: Buddies
IMAGEOUT OF THE ARCHIVES
Directed by Arthur J. Bressan Jr.
“Buddies is not just about AIDS; it’s about what happens when a person, a lone individual, has to face not only death, but the fear and ignorance of all of us… society.” – Director Arthur J. Bressan Jr.
David is a 25-year-old gay man from New York City. He loves his job and his boyfriend, Steve. His parents accepted him when he came out. But as a terrifying new disease begins to ravage New York’s gay community, David feels he has to help in whatever way he can. He volunteers through the Gay Center to be a “buddy” to an AIDS patient.
David is matched with Robert, a 32-year-old activist from San Diego, who has been battling AIDS for a year. Rejected by his parents for being gay, and abandoned by his lover after learning he has AIDS, Robert is desperately in need of a friend. But is David the right person?
Things don’t get off to a great start as David, following suggested protocol, arrives in Robert’s room wearing a surgical mask and gown. He feels Robert is smug, and their views on Gay Liberation Days (what we know as Pride today) couldn’t be more different: Robert thinks it’s a wonderful celebration of freedom, while David views it mostly as an embarrassment. But as they get to know one another better, a powerful bond develops.
Based on conversations director Arthur J. Bressan Jr. had with friends who’d been diagnosed with AIDS, Buddies was shot in 9 days with a budget of around $27,000. The film had its world premiere at the Frameline LGBTQ Film Festival on September 12, 1985 as a benefit for the Shanti Project. Five days later, President Reagan said the word “AIDS” publicly for the first time.
Unfortunately, the director and one of the lead actors (Geoff Edholm, who played Robert) both died of AIDS not long after the film’s release. Long unavailable, ImageOut is proud to bring back this important part of LGBTQ cinema, the first film ever to tackle the AIDS pandemic, as our Archive Night selection for 2018.
— Christopher Roesch