D.C. was sent reeling last year when a government report showed that at least 3 percent of the District’s residents have HIV and AIDS, far surpassing the 1-percent threshold considered a “generalized and severe” epidemic. Former Washington Post writer Jose Antonio Vargas, who first reported the shocking statistics in March 2009, is co-producer on local director Susan Koch’s The Other City. The film is successful in providing an authentic look inside the “other” Washington: the seedy crack houses where former addict Ron Harris exchanges dirty needles for clean ones in a tireless battle against the disease he never thought he’d contract as a straight black man. And the wooded areas off P Street NW where prostitutes turn tricks and where Jose Ramirez, infected at just 17, bravely hands out condoms. In Adams Morgan resides the staff of Joseph’s House, who lovingly care for terminally ill and homeless AIDS patients in their last days. These are the foot soldiers of this battle, and without their hopeful presence, this film would be far too crushing to the soul. While the film features a heart-wrenching and timely topic, it suffers from some structural issues. The climax in each of the various story lines is often flat, and peppered throughout is an assortment of experts lopsided in its over-representation of Washington Post columnists. None of them, alas, is terribly articulate on the subject of a solution.
Screens with Last Address at 11:15 a.m. at AFI Silver Theater 3; also on Sunday, June 27, at 6:45 p.m. at AFI Silver Theater 2.