This powerful autobiographical documentary explores what happens to Linus Ignatius when he tests positive for HIV while living in Berlin.
The changes Ignatius goes through as he adjusts to the diagnosis are depicted in an unflinchingly honest manner – complete with scenes of explicit sexuality – rarely seen in most mainstream gay media depictions.The film’s conception began with a diagnosis – and some friendly advice. “I made the film because it was something to focus my obsession on,” Ignatius explains. “A dear friend I had contacted, Victor Jeffries, told me to document everything I was going through.” Ignatius’ camera had been stolen a week prior and all he had access to was an old ‘90s camcorder his then-boyfriend had in storage. Thus began an intense period of video diary-keeping which included everything from Ignatius picking up medication to composing songs to masturbating to confessing his deepest fears and longings to his camera.
These diaries became the backbone of what would eventually become POSITIVE – but more importantly, they kept Ignatius focused on the future in a time when many have a hard time grappling with that concept.
“Because I had a camera, I was never alone,” Ignatius says. “Every experience, every pain, every minute of my day had a purpose of some kind. When I told a mentor of mine, Danny Fields [the legendary former manager of The Ramones and The Stooges] about my stolen camera woes, he said “People won’t love you for your polish. They’ll love you for YOU.” Positive was my punk, rough-around-the-edges response to a couple of blows life had dealt me.
Ignatius sees POSITIVE’s presence on NSFW as a crucial step in fighting HIV stigma. “I think it’s exciting to have the film hosted on a website like NSFW that displays adult content. I think it’s important that HIV is part of our narrative around sex, and vice versa. It’s an interesting way of subverting content and expectations. From my perspective, for someone who is HIV-positive there is always a little bit of death in sex, and vice versa.”
NSFW curator Adam Baran adds, “It’s so important to me personally to have this film added to the NSFW collection. Part of my mission with NSFW is to bring engaging and dynamic shorts that highlight aspects of gay sexuality that don’t get seen or considered by many who view adult content. Previous selections like HOLE, which dealt with sex and disability, HATTIE GOES CRUISING, which dealt with sex and aging, and G’O CLOCK, which delved into chemsex, have all been important additions to the collection. With POSITIVE, we finally have added HIV/AIDS to our ongoing conversation. POSITIVE is sure to open people’s eyes to the reality of seroconversion and provoke dialogue and discussion we don’t have enough of in our community. Not to mention Ignatius is a very sexy, very captivating subject.”
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