© Salzgeber & Co. Medien GmbH

120 BPM (BPM (Beats Per Minute), 120 battements par minute)
France 2017

Opening 30 Nov 2017

Directed by: Robin Campillo
Writing credits: Robin Campillo, Philippe Mangeot
Principal actors: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel, Antoine Reinartz, Ariel Borenstein

It’s the beginning of 1990 and a long-standing group of AIDS activists in Paris decides to crank up the action since there seems to be no progress in medication or media attention after ten long years of deaths and suffering. The film opens with a group business meeting and new members are introduced. They discuss bringing their message to school classes. They encourage the use of condoms, distribute clean needles for drug addicts, and demand taking responsibility in general. Naturally, they are quite present in Gay Pride Parades, even selecting members to be cheerleaders. Slowly, we get to know some members more closely: Sean, Mehdi, Martin, Nils, Sophie, Jerémie, Max, Nathan, etc., many of whom are suffering from various phases of AIDS complications.  Jerémie dies. Sean fails slowly, watched over by his new boyfriend, Nathan. As our relationship with various individuals becomes more intimate, we also have more understanding for the goals of the group.

120 BPM or 120 beats per minute is the heart rate of an average person. This showed at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival where it won three prizes: the Grand Jury Prize, the FIPRESCI (film critics) prize, and the Queer Palm. From there it came to the 2017 Filmfest Hamburg, where I was fortunate to view it. (Becky Tan)

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