What if they had lived? That simple but profound question is the overarching theme for the new film by Leo Herrera, The Fathers Project. It challenges us to imagine a world without AIDS.
KQED Digital released an interview with Herrera with new behind-the-scenes footage of the captivating film project. The interview takes you behind the lens to better understand Herrera’s filmmaking process and his vision of a world in which the epidemic hadn’t claimed thousands and thousands of lives.
It’s almost impossible to imagine a world in which HIV doesn’t exist. Only the older generation of gay men knows what that’s like. For the rest of us, HIV has always been there. It’s an inescapable presence that has impacted our sex, our culture and our politics. But if we allow ourselves to consider a world in which AIDS never happened, it opens up all sort of artistic and storytelling possibilities.
The Fathers Project takes those unimaginable possibilities and bursts them open. It’s a film that portrays a radically different political landscape where more artists and more openly LGBT politicians exist. It forces us to consider a political world and culture focused on something other than HIV.
AIDS happened at the height of a gay sexual revolution, but the epidemic created a sexual de-evolution. For over 35 years, we’ve endured fear, blame and stigma associated with this disease. What if our sexual revolution was allowed to flourish? How might our relationship to our sex and to each other be different?
But at the most basic human level, we must consider what our world would be like if the thousands who died were in our lives. We lost the opportunity for meaningful friendships, for supportive mentors and for thrilling sexual experiences.
It’s impossible to calculate the loss from the epidemic, but asking what might have been is more than just an artistic exercise. As we were robbed of our past and our community, we can take action today to ensure that all parts of our diverse community endures. The Fathers Project might seem like a film about an alternative present but it’s really a film about our future possibilities.
The first episode, “Gay President,” will be released online this summer of 2018. It interweaves real life events with imaginary commercials, news segments and interviews with survivors of the epidemic. The result reveals a not so fictional queer utopia. Mark your calendars!
While you wait for The Fathers Project, watch En Cuatro, a film Herrera made with Hornet about queer Latino sexuality.