Welcome to the 8th Annual POZ Awards, spotlighting the best representatives of HIV and AIDS in media and culture.
The POZ editorial staff selects the nominees, but POZ readers choose the winners.
Eligible nominees were active or were presented, published or produced between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023.
BEST IN FILM OR TELEVISION
Those of us in the HIV community understand the power of telling stories that are often passed over or forgotten. Finding and elevating those stories is at the heart of The Stroll, the HBO documentary that tells the story of the transgender women of color who participated in sex work in New York City’s Meatpacking District, specifically a blocks-long stretch of 14th street known as “the stroll.” The film, directed by Zachary Drucker and Kristin Lovell, who previously worked on the stroll in real life, follows several people’s stories throughout the many challenges that New Yorkers have faced throughout the decades, including the AIDS crisis, 9/11 and gentrification. And it is all told through the lens of a community that often faced intersecting forms of oppression. The film is currently available to stream on Max.
Though Hudson enjoyed a long career as a box office force throughout his decades of making movies, he is now remembered for his final months of life, in which his macho image was replaced with a tabloid-fueled one chronicling his death from an AIDS-related illness. Based on a 2019 biography of Hudson, this film explores the years in which Hudson lived as a closeted gay man while simultaneously being one of the most famous faces in America. Using a lot of the archival material presented in the book, director Stephen Kijak recounts the events of Hudson’s life, including his Illinois childhood and Navy years, to give a fuller picture of a person with HIV who was disrespected in his final months of life. The film is available to stream on Max.
Whereas several documentaries have been made chronicling the response to the AIDS crisis that formed on the East coast, fewer have been dedicated to what was happening on the other side of the country. It’s to that void that Commitment to Life speaks, as it chronicles the early days of AIDS in Los Angeles. The film, helmed by Emmy-winning out director and producer Jeffrey Schwarz, who has previously directed Tab Hunter Confidential and I Am Divine, also tells the story of the making of Philadelphia, as well as the origins of Los Angeles’ ACT UP chapter and the creation of the iconic red ribbon as a symbol of AIDS awareness. The film is not currently available to stream.
Almost a decade after Alysia Abbott’s 2014 memoir, the film version has found its way into theaters. Directed by Andrew Durham, in his directorial debut, and produced by Academy Award-winner Sofia Coppola, the film traces the story of Abbott’s move, at only five years old, to San Francisco after the death of her mother. Her father, writer Steve Abbott, comes out after his wife’s death and begins to live as an out gay man in SF while raising Alysia. However, later, as he is diagnosed with AIDS, the tables turn and Alysia must care for him. The film, which stars SAG Award winner Scoot McNairy as Abbott’s father and CODA actress Emilia Jones as Alysia, debuted at Sundance in January, but is not currently available to stream.
While this film adaptation of the hit YA novel is certainly easygoing sexy fun, the film does feature a real-life conversation about sexual roles between mother and son that is honestly refreshing. The film follows Alex Claremont-Diaz, who happens to be the son of the United States president (played by Uma Thurman), as he falls in love with the Prince of England, Prince Henry. After engaging in a covert international affair, Alex comes out to his mom who begins speaking with him openly and honestly about queer sex, including a conversation as to what type of protection the two have been using to engage in their (very very hot) sexual activities. If you ever wanted to watch a movie where Uma Thurman namedrops Truvada, well this is the flick for you.