A still from the film Desert Migration (2015) by Australian filmmaker Daniel Cardone.
A still from the film Desert Migration (2015) by Australian filmmaker Daniel Cardone. Contributed

Men living with HIV tell their survival stories

AT the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of gay men moved away from cities looking for healthy lifestyles to help them deal with a grim prognosis: a HIV infection.

In Australia, the Northern Rivers was one of such places, and in the USA it was Palm Springs, California.

They say that no one arrives to Palms Springs without a story, and this film reflects on that.

Australian filmmaker (and US resident) Daniel Cardone has released Desert Migration, a documentary that follows 13 gay men over 50 years of age living with HIV, after decades of being diagnosed.

Speaking from the US, Daniel Cardone said the documentary offers a different look on the topic of HIV as a long term issue in someone's life.

"It brings a lot of aspects together, such as memory, time passing and dealing with the past while trying to look into the future," he said. "The film does require the audience to give up the way they are used to seeing movies, to a certain degree. It does take its time to set a sense of time, place and state of mind."

The filmmaker said Palm Springs is now a hotspot for older men living with HIV within the US.

"All of these people ended up living, thanks to the miracle of modern medication, but their lives were destroyed and changed for ever," he said. "The film looks into one day in the life of 13 men who relocated to Palm Springs and they are now trying to make something of their lives.

"It's an ordinary day in their lives but what they bring from their past is quite extraordinary."

Mr Cardone said he has heard the Northern Rivers also has a strong community of gay men living with HIV.

"I had heard that, so I'll be very keen to find out what people relate to over there and what is different," Mr Cardone said.

At the Star Court Theatre in Lismore on Thursday, December 3, at 6.30pm. $22.50.

At Pig House Flicks in Byron Bay on Friday, December 4, with a Q&A with Bobby Goldsmith Foundation representatives. $20.