Killing Patient Zero

Killing Patient Zero

In the aftermath of Stonewall and the rise of the gay liberation movement, gay men celebrated a newfound sexual freedom – but, in 1981, the dawning awareness of AIDS changed everything. Right-wing bigots exploited AIDS to demonize gay men, and no one was more villainized than Gaétan Dugas, the Canadian flight attendant dubbed “Patient Zero.” Seeking the origins of the mysterious epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control interviewed men with the disease, finding patterns that suggested sexual transmission. In this groundbreaking documentary, director Laurie Lynd explodes the myth of “The Monster Who Brought AIDS to North America” using beautifully framed interviews with Dugas’s friends along with the scientists unlocking the earliest AIDS cases. The Gaétan we meet here is a playful, complicated soul who wore eyeshadow to work, cruised in short-shorts, and went out of his way to help CDC researchers crack the mystery of “gay cancer.” Lynd also looks at San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts, who doggedly kept the politics of AIDS in the headlines. Shilts’ landmark book, And the Band Played On, perpetuated the Patient Zero myth—a complicated reality that Lynd takes great care to unpack. Killing Patient Zero is an important work of queer archaeology that shines an empathetic light on a generation traumatized not just by a virus but by society’s blame and vitriol.

Screening Schedule

No physical screenings scheduled.

Direction: Laurie Lynd
Script: Laurie Lynd
Cinematography: Paul Steinberg
Editing: Trevor Ambrose
Music: Ken Myhr
Actors: Andrew Stoner, B. Ruby Rich, Brian Freeman, Brian Willoughby, Douglas Crimp, Dr. Andrew Moss, Dr. Christos Tsoukas, Dr. Harold Jaffe, Dr. Jacques Pepin, Dr. James W. Curran, Dr. Lawrence Mass, Dr. Marcus Conant, Dr. Michael Worobey, Dr. Thomas D. Watts, Ed Lee, Elaine Watson, Fran Lebowitz, Gaetane Urevig, Gordon Price, John Greyson, Ken Maley, Marie Wadden, Matthew Hays, Michael Denneny, Michael Welsh, Noah Stewart, Piere-Claude Levaque, R.M. Vaughan, Rand Gaynor, Ray Redford, Richard Berkowitz
Production: Fadoo Productions, Fine Point Films Production
Producers: Corey Russell, Trevor Birney
Executive producer: Trevor Birney, Bob McCown
Format: ProRes
Color: Color
Production Country: Canada
Production Year: 2019
Duration: 98'
Contact: Abacus Media Rights

The screening is followed by a discussion with Ioannis Moschos, Director, Dr. of Theatre Studies, Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Greece.

Laurie Lynd


1988 Together and Apart (short fiction)
1992 RSVP (short fiction)
1993 The Fairy Who Didn’t Want to Be a Fairy (short fiction)
1995 House (fiction)
2004 Open Heart (TV, fiction)
2007 Breakfast with Scot (fiction)
2010 Verona (short fiction)
2014 Dear Viola (TV, fiction)
2019 Killing Patient Zero