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Festival Centerpiece: BPM (Beats Per Minute)

November 8, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Presenting Sponsor: AIDS Resource of Wisconsin

BPM (BEATS PER MINUTE) (120 Battements Par Minute)
directed by Robin Campillo
(France, in French with English subtitles, 144minutes, 2017)

In Paris in the early 1990s, a group of activists goes to battle for those stricken with HIV/AIDS, taking on sluggish government agencies and major pharmaceutical companies in bold, invasive actions. The organization is ACT UP, and its members, many of them gay and HIV-positive, embrace their mission with a literal life-or-death urgency.

Amid rallies, protests, fierce debates and ecstatic dance parties, the newcomer Nathan falls in love with Sean, the group’s radical firebrand, and their passion sparks against the shadow of mortality as the activists fight for a breakthrough.


Robin Campillo’s daring narrative film starts in media res, dispassionately chronicling the passions that drive this group of mostly young men and women. The film leads with their actions but also forgerounds all of the protocol and debates. The weekly meeting — ACT UP’s unit of deliberation — is the compelling center of this film.

Campillo revisits a time of personal importance — he was a member of Paris ACT UP, starting in April 1992 — and, in this time of renewed global activism, unfurls a model of reflective cinematic time that allows all of the talk here — in meetings, at actions, in bed — to unfurl and evolve, vitally, crucially. The movie, like the activists it portrays, understands loss as everywhere, and, holding loss tenderly close, works to negotiate and enforce a forceful mode of response.

BPM is a work of mourning and a work of anger and a work of rigorous beauty. BPM is also a film that uses the remove of time to contemplate the striking effectiveness of a resistance movement fortified, per one time rank-and-file member Campillo, by an “exuberant effervescence.”


It’s important to understand that at the time, even talking about condoms in high schools and pleading for needle exchanges for drug users wasn’t standard at all. Homophobia was essentially the standard. We’ve forgotten; indeed once society evolves in the way it has since then, there tends to be a sort of collective amnesia about how things were before. ”  – director Robin Campillo


+ Grand Prix, 2017 Cannes Film Festival
+ France’s submission for the 2017 Best Foreign Film Oscar


Check out the trailer here.

The film’s website here.


Much thanks to the LGBT Archives of UWM’s Golda Meir Library for sharing materials from their collection. Look for their display of artifacts chronicling the activities of ACT UP Milwaukee outside and around the UWM Union Cinema.


Presenting Sponsor: AIDS Resource of Wisconsin


Admisson, tickets available at door.
$5 General
FREE for students, with an i.d. from whatever institution

Festival passes available:  See all of the 2017 Festival for only $50!


The 32nd Annual Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival is presented by the Department of Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres and is made possible thanks to our generous sponsors, who include UWM Union Programming; Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Eldon E. Murray Fund; Milwaukee Pride; Joseph R. Pabst; Richard Kaul; Burbach & Stansbury S.C., Attorneys at Law; Cream City Foundation’s Sutton Place Fund & Valentine Fund; Planned Parenthood; BESTD Clinic; Northwestern Mutual; AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin; and many other generous businesses, community groups, and individuals

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