After debuting to overwhelming criticial acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival last year, stunning gay AIDS activist drama 120 BPM (Beats per Minute) finally hits UK cinemas this Friday (April 6).
Directed by Robin Campillo (Eastern Boys), the French-language film movingly tells the story of a group of AIDS activists in early ’90s Paris as they fight to make the French government take urgent action at the height of the epidemic, and won the Grand Prix prize at Cannes 2017 as well as a host of international awards.
Partly inspired by the experinces of Campillo and co-screenwriter Philippe Mangeot, who campaigned as part of the French chapter of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), 120 BPM (Beats per Minute) paints an emotional human portrait of the crisis as it charts the everyday stuggles of a community fighting to survive.
The drama weaves a fictional story but is based heavily on true events and drenched in unflinching accuracy.
From the way the huge ensemble cast click their fingers at their regular meetings (applause is too noisy and interrupts proceedings), down to the exact recipe for fake blood, mixed by the bathful and splashed around the offices of callous corporations, all this authenticity is possible thanks to the real-life experiences of Robin himself.
“I didn’t go through documents to do this film, I went through my memories,” he tells Attitude in our new May issue – available to download and in shops now.
Robin was a 20-year-old film student in 1982 when reports of the Aids crisis in New York began to hit the French newspapers.
Overwhelmed by the devastation the disease was causing all around him, he lost his taste for cinema and took up a job as a video editor for the news desk of French state TV channel France 3, which eventually brought him into contact with members of ACT UP.
“When I read the first articles talking about a gay cancer I was paralysed with fear. They were saying that most gay men would die,” Robin recalls.
“I wanted to do cinema, but I was also a young gay man who wanted to have fun, to have a lot of sex. I think my world collapsed in a way.”
“I wanted to be a cinema director since I was six years old but because of this epidemic I couldn’t,” he concludes. “It was such a dark time.
“[The film] is a conclusion of 35 years of my life, it’s as simple as that.”
120 BPM (Beats per Minute) hits UK cinemas on Friday 6 April.