Killing Patient Zero – Hot Docs 2019 Quickie Review

It’s crazy how much our culture has evolved and how much pain we have caused for victims of the AIDS Epidemic. Directed by Laurie Lynd, Killing Patient Zero talks about the AIDS crisis (which commenced in the late 70’s), alongside the effects that it caused, and the exact route of the epidemic AKA “Patient Zero” who spreaded the disease. While Killing Patient Zero isn’t all that great of a documentary, what it does achieve instead is raise awareness of a fascinating issue.

Being someone born long after the epidemic and it’s severe spreading, what really made me hooked into Killing Patient Zero, was the backstory of how the disease was spread. What the documentary does best above all is it’s connection to being identified as homosexual back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It describes how being considered gay back then was considered the worst sin of all, and it’s severe connection to AIDS. The film shows the pain which many members of the LGBTQ+ community went through, with both the disease itself and how society reacted to the crisis back then. While the film is interesting and thought provoking at times, at other points you start to realize how basic and formulaic the film is.  It uses only interviews to form it’s whole structure and doesn’t do more with the documentary medium. The documentary also looses it’s focus by the end of the film, making the audience loose interest in the film’s riveting information by the time the credits role.

Killing Patient Zero is overall a doc that has it’s moments, but unfortunately, as the film’s progresses, loses momentum. At the end of the day, the film is decent but far from being anything phenomenal.


Killing Patient Zero screened at this year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival, as part of the Special Presentations program. The film is currently seeking international distribution.

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