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August 22 2014

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amfAR Takes the Battle to Tribeca

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HBO’s forthcoming documentary The Battle of amfAR won’t air until December, but its debut screening at the Tribeca Film Festival last night certainly managed to draw a crowd, with Uma Thurman, Harry Belafonte, and Fern Mallis all coming out in support. Mallis—a founding board member of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS—told Style.com that she remembered giving amfAR one of DIFFA’s first grants, back in the eighties, to buy a refrigerator. These days, amfAR can afford its own iceboxes. It’s also evolved into one of the world’s leading funders of AIDS research, and the charity’s work and donations have made many new therapies available. And, of course, it’s amassed an impressive roster of celebrity endorsers—heck, Sarah Jessica Parker chaired its New York City gala in February.

But one mustn’t forget amfAR’s first famous patron, Dame Elizabeth Taylor. The Battle of amfAR chronicles Taylor’s work with clinician Dr. Mathilde Krim in mobilizing during the early days of HIV. In the film’s opening moments, Taylor addresses a congressional committee on the burgeoning AIDS crisis. In a voice-over, the late actress explains that she watched as, one by one, her friends grew ill. “And so I thought, Bitch, do something!”

After the film, Kenneth Cole moderated a Q&A with Krim and amfAR CEO Kevin Frost. Krim, now 86, received a standing ovation as she took the stage. Cole asked if she has ever felt hopeless in what seems to be a never-ending battle. Said Krim: “No. I’ve never felt like throwing in the towel. From the very beginning, my feelings, my anxieties, my hope are the same as they are today. Is that a good answer?”

Photo: Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

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Dept. of Culture