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Zero Patience
  • Wendy Gay Pearson, The University of Western Ontario
  • Susan Knabe, The University of Western Ontario

A Queer Film Classic on John Greyson’s controversial 1993 film musical about the AIDS crisis which combines experimental, camp musical, and documentary aesthetics while refuting the legend of Patient Zero, the male flight attendant accused in Randy Shilts’ book And the Band Played On of bringing the AIDS crisis to North America. The film features the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who is working as a taxidermist at the Museum of Natural History in Toronto; seeking exhibits for his Hall of Contagion, Burton encounters the ghost of Patient Zero, and together, they set out to try to discover the truth about the origin of AIDS and restore Zero to life.

This book provides a guided tour of the film, looking at its engagement with both biomedical and populist discourses around AIDS in its first decade and with the political work undertaken by the queer community to provide support for HIV+ people and treatment for those with AIDS. It also delves into how Greyson, one of the most important figures in New Queer Cinema, combined experimental film aesthetics with a camp take on Hollywood genre films (both musical and horror) and the Canadian documentary film tradition while at the same time responding to Shilts’ book and other discourses focused on placing blame for the AIDS crisis on an individual and a community.

  • John Greyson,
  • Zero Patience,
  • queer film,
  • Canadian film,
  • AIDS on film
Publication Date
November, 2011
Arsenal Pulp Press
Queer Classics
Citation Information
Wendy Gay Pearson and Susan Knabe. Zero Patience. Vancouver(2011)
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