Straight From Tribeca: ‘The Other City’ Review

Washington D.C., our nation’s capital, the mecca of significant historical events is making history in more ways than one, being the home of the first African-American president and the largest HIV/AIDS infected community in the world.

Shedding light on the forgotten area, directed by Susan Koch (Kicking It) and written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, “The Other City” is an emotional documentary spreading awareness of the staggering HIV/AIDS population through the countless heart-wrenching stories of its victims.

The film reveals the daily struggles of individuals attempting to survive another day, institutions lending a helping hand by showing their support and the journeys of individuals taking the initiative, when no one else will, to promote HIV/AIDS prevention methods.

Overall, the film features a plethora of moving characters. First there is an African-American single mother of three young children, scrambling to find housing, for without housing she cannot refrigerate her medication nor tend to her family. There’s also a group of African-American elderly men coming to terms with their illness through the love and encouragement provided by daily support sessions, Joseph’s House, a refuge for those at the brink of death. Ron Daniels, who manages the Family and Medical’s needle exchange program from the back of a van, swapping clean needles for used ones is also an important part of the story and of course, there’s a HIV positive Latino homosexual, Jose Ramirez, who endlessly promotes safe sex by speaking at high schools, handing out condoms wherever he goes and researching dating sites.

Filled with a great amount of information, it was shocking to discover that three percent of the residents are HIV positive, a much higher statistic than those of African cities. Labeling D.C. as a breeding ground for the infection, as just one percent qualifies as an epidemic by the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Makes you wonder why we haven’t heard about these figures sooner from the mainstream media.

The movie presents viewers with a raw insight into individual’s battles, raising issues such as poverty, race and homosexuality. It’s an enlightening piece of work that is sure to touch the hearts of anyone who takes the time to watch “The Other City” assuring they will take better precautions when it comes to sexual or drug related activities. Therefore, this film would serve as an effective learning tool for high school students.

Among the prominent lawmakers and leaders posted in our capital, reside the most unfortunate people who desperately need the governments’ assistance, but receive none. Instead, they are pushed aside, ignored and left to fend for themselves disappearing into the shadows of the powerful metropolis. Providing a sense of what life is like in an impaired area with the infection, knowing little is being done to aid you with the proper medications, housing, condoms or needles at a time when HIV/AIDS has been overlooked, failing to receive any type of government funding.

A tear-jerking documentary that will make you want to help fight HIV/AIDS by informing others of prevention and its consequences, “The Other City” opens your mind to a part of Washington that is unheard of and unrecognized by our leaders and fellow journalists.

In the end, you’ll find yourself asking, why is the government neglecting to resolve the epidemic taking place right in their own backyard?

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Maria Bonello

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