December 6, 2012

PBS: The Documentary Film "The Grove" Is Must See TV

The documentary film "The Grove" is being broadcast on PBS.

I was channel surfing two nights ago, and stumbled on a terrific documentary film about the National Aids Memorial Grove that was airing on KQED, our local PBS station in San Francisco’s bay area. The Grove is a documentary that begins by recounting the early days of the AIDS pandemic in the United States, and then focuses on the very poignant and touching story of bay area landscape architect Stephen Marcus and his fatal battle with AIDS.

With Stephen’s death - his friends, family, and his life partner Jack Porter, wanted to create a memorial that honored Stephen’s life, and they came together with other residents of San Francisco, and the idea for the National Aids Memorial Grove was born.

This wouldn’t be an interesting film without conflict and controversy, and The Grove doesn’t disappoint. I’m not going to spoil the central conflict of the movie - it’s well worth watching - and it's a debate that I have a strong opinion about - that I'll share at a later date. 

This is how the filmmakers describe their film.
More Americans have been lost to AIDS than in all the U.S. wars since 1900, and the pandemic has killed 22 million people worldwide. However, few know about the existence of the National AIDS Memorial, a seven-acre grove hidden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The Grove chronicles the garden’s transformation from a neglected eyesore to landscaped sanctuary to national memorial. The film shows how a community in crisis found healing and remembrance, and how the seeds of a few visionaries blossomed into something larger and more provocative than they could have imagined. But as the Grove’s stakeholders seek broader public recognition, a battle erupts over what constitutes an appropriate memorial for the AIDS pandemic.

The entrance to the National Aids Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park.

The Grove will be repeated on Saturday December 8th on KQED at 6pm (the film is 60 minutes long). Check local listings for when The Grove will be airing in your city.

I have been to the National Aids Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park a few times, and it’s a peaceful and serene slice of heaven, amid the chaotic urban landscape of San Francisco. If you’re a local and have never visited the bucolic Grove, you should put it on your “to do” list. If you’re planning a visit to our fair city, and Golden Gate Park is on your itinerary (and it should be), spend some time in the Aids Memorial Grove.

From December 1st, 2012  to December 26th, 2012 there is a month-long text-to-donate campaign, “A Time For Hope; A Time for Healing.” Any mobile subscriber regardless of carrier can text the word “HEAL” to “501501” to make a $10.00 charitable donation to the National AIDS Memorial.

All donations to the text-to-donate campaign will support the National AIDS Memorial year-round mission to honor and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS; continue to create and maintain a permanent memorial grove located in San Francisco as a place for healing; and expand youth awareness and scholarship programs to inspire the next generation of leaders to help find a cure for the pandemic, now in its 30th year.

The text to donate campaign runs until December 26, 2012..


About the National Aids Memorial Grove
In October 1996, a historic milestone was reached when Congress and the President of the United States approved the National AIDS Memorial Grove Act. This official designation as the National AIDS Memorial Grove, a status comparable to that of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Mount Rushmore, and the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, proclaims to the world that there is now a dedicated space in the national public landscape where anyone who has been touched by AIDS can grieve openly without being stigmatized, can find comfort among others whose lives have been affected by AIDS and HIV, and can experience the feelings of renewal and hope inherent in nature. As the AIDS pandemic continues to invade humanity in unprecedented numbers, the establishment of the Grove as the national gathering place for healing, hope, and remembrance also serves as an important marker in the history of this dreadful disease.




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