Silence = Death

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Silence = Death
Silence = Death.jpg
Directed byRosa von Praunheim
Produced byRosa von Praunheim
Michael Lupetin
Screenplay byRosa von Praunheim
StarringBern Boyle
Emilio Cubeiro
Rafael Gamba
Allen Ginsberg
Keith Haring
Paul Smith
David Wojnarowicz
CinematographyMike Kuchar
Edited byRosa von Praunheim
Mike Shephard
Rosa Von Praunheim Filmproduktion
Distributed byFirst Run Features.
Release date
4 May 1990
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States
West Germany

Silence = Death is a 1990 documentary film directed, written and produced by Rosa von Praunheim. The film centers on the response of some New York City artists to the AIDS epidemic. The interviewed includes East Village artist David Wojnarowicz, poet Allen Ginsberg, graffiti artist Keith Haring (who died from AIDS three months before the movie's release), Peter Kunz, Bern Boyle, and many others. It is the first part of von Praunheim and Phil Zwickler's trilogy about AIDS and activism it was followed by Positive (the third part, about the AIDS epidemic in Germany, was never released).[1]


This film explores the reactions and response of New York City's artistic community to the ravages of the AIDS epidemic and other issues of homosexuality. Activist interview include representatives from the many arts organizations that have alerted the public to the crisis through performance art, music, theater and literature. Even with the gentler voices, the film's undercurrent is an angry demand for action and recognition.

Artist David Wojnarowicz appears shaking with anger as he confronts the diseased society that has turned its back on him and all other AIDS victims. He reads several angry tirades and provides experimental film material and paintings. Painter Rafael Gamba provides a vengeful indictment of homophobic bigotry.

Other segments include Keith Haring. He is seen working on a complicated erotic mural, commenting that the painting is "about nostalgia. It's not about anything that could happen now". Haring shares his nostalgic longing for the days of carefree sex. He died from AIDS-related complications on February 16, 1990, three months before the movie was released on May 4, which would have been his 32nd birthday.

Allen Ginsberg's segment muses on sexual experimentation and attitudes, and declares that the planet itself has AIDS.


  1. ^ Murray, Raymond. Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video. TLA Publications, 1994, ISBN 1880707012. p. 109

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