World AIDS Day observance: A free 3-day filmfest featuring Rent, Jeffrey and more

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The roster includes the moving Longtime Companion; the film version of the smash musical Rent; Terrence McNally's hilarious, harrowing Love! Valour! Compassion!; Paul Rudnick's very funny Jeffrey; the road movie Boys on the Side with the triple-threat cast of Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore and Mary-Louise Parker; and The Trip,  with Alexis Arquette and Jill St. John (!).  Some are sentimental, some farcical, some deeply affecting — but all are good examples of how artists have tried to channel the complicated feelings triggered by the epidemic.

The film series starts tonight, Tuesday Dec 1, with Jeffrey and Longtime Companion. Wednesday will feature Boys on the Side and Rent. Closing the series will be The Trip and Love! Valour! Compassion! on Thursday night. The films will start promptly at 7 and 9 p.m. each night. Admission — and the popcorn — is free.  The Flamingo Resort is located at 4601 34th St S. in  St Petersburg.

For more information contact Jim Nixon, Development Specialist / LGBT Event Coordinator at Metro Charities at [email protected]

Today, Dec. 1, is World AIDS Day, an occasion to reflect both on the progress that has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS and on the work that still needs to be done.  Yesterday's  St. Pete Times report on Florida AIDS statistics was a sobering reminder of the latter — especially of the disproportionate impact the disease has had on African-Americans. Consider these stats from John Barry's story:

About one of every 60 black men in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties has HIV/AIDS, compared with about one of every 160 white men. The death rate among black men is almost seven times higher than among white men.

About one of every 100 black women in Florida is infected, compared with about one of every 1,000 white women. Black women account for 70 percent of women's infections, though they make up only 16 percent of the female population. About 85 percent of these women are infected through heterosexual sex.

Observances around the world will stress the importance of prevention and testing; the treatments that are allowing  millions to live with HIV; and the need to get those medicines to disadvantaged populations.

Today is also a day to remember the human impact of  the disease, as evidenced in countless stories of  love, loss and survival. Filmmakers have played a big role over the last two decades in telling those stories, so  Metro Charities, the Tampa Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival and the Flamingo Resort in St. Petersburg have joined together to present a free three-day film festival at the Resort featuring "6 of the best HIV/AIDS Films of the past 20 years."

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