04/12/2018 Film makers respond to Portobello Film Festival last minute film ban
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Film makers respond to Portobello Film Festival last minute film ban

2016-09-08
 Independent film festival bans documentary film under pressure from Buzzfeed journalist
 Film makers question the basis for the banning and the use of censorship rather than debate
 Film makers appeal to festival director to reverse decision


September 08, 2016, London, UK. Press Dispensary. Following overnight pressure from a Buzzfeed journalist, the Portobello Film Festival announced this morning that it would be cancelling the screening of the film Positive Hell, which until today had been scheduled for the penultimate top slot in the festival's documentary section this coming Saturday.

In a phone call this morning, festival director Jonathan Barnett told the film's writer and narrator Joan Shenton that although he personally "saw nothing objectionable about it" and that banning the film was "totally against what I believe in", it was nevertheless now barred on the grounds that he'd been told the film "would cause distress" - the first time the festival had taken such a step.

It appeared Mr Barnett reached his decision after receiving two telephone calls complaining about the screening and then being interviewed last night by the journalist and activist Patrick Strudwick, who is the LGBT editor of the news and entertainment website Buzzfeed UK.

However, the film's makers challenge not only the festival's decision to pull the film but the foundation for Mr Strudwick's opposition to the film.

Joan Shenton said: "Patrick Strudwick is mistaken. His Buzzfeed article opens with the statement that Positive Hell 'claims the entire medical establishment is wrong about HIV/AIDS'. That isn't true. Positive Hell questions the science behind the hypothesis that AIDS is caused by a virus and simply offers the perspective of five individuals who have gone against medical advice for decades without adverse consequences. Unfortunately the right of these individuals to tell their story has been prevented/censored? Withdrawn?

"And Mr Strudwick continues that the film 'denies the existence of HIV/AIDS'. It doesn't. One of the film's subjects, an MD, gives his opinion that the science behind AIDS and HIV is fraudulent - a strong view, to be sure - but the film itself simply presents that view: this is a documentary, not a promo.

"Should a  documentary be banned - censored - because some people in the film say things that the audience may disagree with?"

The film's director, Andi Reiss, said: "Positive Hell is an independent documentary that was being shown in an independent film festival. Whether or not you agree with some of the people in it, they have a right to express their view and, as film makers, we have a right to present our film. It is a sad day when an independent festival resorts to censorship."

Joan Shenton concluded: "We appeal to the Portobello Film Festival and Jonathan Barnett to reinstate Positive Hell. Mr Strudwick's views of the film are not correct so the supposed reason for censorship is flawed. But, in any case, it is shocking that an independent film festival should for any reason be censoring the content of independent films in the UK in the 21st century.  Let the participants speak and then debate their view. Don't silence it, or us as professional, conscientious independent filmmakers."

Positive Hell may be viewed now at http://bit.ly/positivehell .

- ends -

Notes for editors
Positive Hell is a 30 minute award-winning documentary written and narrated by journalist Joan Shenton and co-produced in 2015 with director Andi Reiss.
 Star award at United Latino Festival
 Star award at The Indie Gathering
 Nominated for best documentary at Marbella International Film Festival
 Selected for
 - Los Angeles CineFest
 - Digital Griffix online festival
 - Indie Festival 01
 Selected for - then banned from - 2016 London Independent Film Festival
 Selected for - then banned from - 2016 Portobello Film Festival.

Positive Hell tells the stories of five individuals in the north of Spain who had been intravenous drug users or alcoholics in their teens. They had been treated in rehab units and had overcome their addictions but had tested "HIV" antibody positive. Thirty years on, they were fit and well, despite no regime of antiviral medication.

One of them, physician Dr Manuel Garrido, had never taken any antiviral medication, consciously swimming against the tide of HIV orthodoxy for three decades. Another, Manoel Penin, took antivirals for short periods of time but gave them up. Raquel Sanz stopped taking antivirals because they made her feel so ill. She married and had two daughters. Both daughters inherited their mother's HIV antibodies but (as is common) lost them after eighteen months. Raquel's eldest daughter went on to have six children and her younger daughter followed a successful career. Both daughters were immensely grateful to have been kept out of the "AIDS zone".

Positive Hell may be viewed now at http://bit.ly/positivehell .

POSITIVE HELL - film documentary

Year : 2014/5                                                    
Length: 30 mins
Format: HD
Writer and narrator: Joan Shenton
Music: Mark Wood
Associate producer: Mark Wood
Producers: Andi Reiss and Joan Shenton
Director, cinematographer and editor: Andi Reiss
© 2014 Meditel Productions and Yellow Media Entertainment

For further information, please contact:
Joan Shenton
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7727 6301 / + 44 (0) 7957 585 515
Email:
Film site: http://bit.ly/positivehell

Media contacts

Joan Shenton
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7727 6301 / + 44 (0) 7957 585 515
Email:
Film site: http://bit.ly/positivehell

Keywords/tags
HIV dissent HIV myths HIV diagnosis AIDS diagnosis Positively False Positive Hell Portobello Film Festival Joan Shenton Andi Reiss film screening film censorship HIV AIDS protest

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Joan Shenton, Positively False and Positive Hell

Joan Shenton, Positively False and Positive Hell
Joan Shenton, Positively False and Positive Hell
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Joan Shenton, Positively False and Positive Hell

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LA Cinefest selection

LA Cinefest selection
LA Cinefest selection
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LA Cinefest selection

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London Independent Film Festival 2016 selection

London Independent Film Festival 2016 selection
London Independent Film Festival 2016 selection
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London Independent Film Festival 2016 selection

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Marbella Film festival nomination

Marbella Film festival nomination
Marbella Film festival nomination
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Marbella Film festival nomination

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Positive Hell flyer

Positive Hell flyer
Positive Hell flyer
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Positive Hell flyer

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The Indie Gathering Star Award

The Indie Gathering Star Award
The Indie Gathering Star Award
The Indie Gathering Star Award for documentary film Positive Hell, August 2016
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The Indie Gathering Star Award

The Indie Gathering Star Award for documentary film Positive Hell, August 2016

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United Latino film festival Star Award

United Latino film festival Star Award
United Latino film festival Star Award
United Latino film festival Star Award for documentary film Positive Hell, August 2016
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United Latino film festival Star Award

United Latino film festival Star Award for documentary film Positive Hell, August 2016

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