When David France was in the middle of production of his film "How to Survive a Plague" (Sundance '12 and an IFC Films/Sundance Selects release), which looks at the AIDS activist group ACT UP from its creation and most robust years through to challenges launched by the Treatment Action Group, he was made aware that former New York City mayor Ed Koch had caught wind of the film.
Koch is a particularly interesting character. He was mayor from 1978 to 1989, during the first several years of the AIDS epidemic, and he was the target of many New York AIDS activists' ire. In conversation with Indiewire, France repeated two chants he heard in the footage of ACT UP events that both held Koch accountable for the city's policies and questioned the bachelor's sexuality, which was in question throughout his political career: "C'mon Ed, honey -- spend the money," and "New York AIDS care is ineffectual. Thank Ed Koch, the heterosexual."
Koch, it has been surprising for many to find out, has begun a post-politics career as a movie reviewer. He's a critic for the Yonkers Tribune and, for several months last year, he had a video review series. It is perhaps even more surprising to discover that Koch reviewed "Plague." But most surprising is what he said (or, rather, didn't say).
Koch wrote his review without a single mention that he was indeed the Mayor of New York City during most of the events depicted in the film. After the review was published, the following passage was highlighted by many gay blogs:
That Larry Kramer, the man who called Koch out publicly so many times and was reduced to merely a name the pol-turned-critic read in a New York Times review of the film, should be getting an honor from the President was seen as an insult by someone commenting as Kramer on Staley's reposting of the Koch review.
It is worth pausing on Koch's description of ACT UP's actions, which comes above his commendation of Staley, Kramer and company in the review: