Documentary Explores How Elizabeth Taylor Joined Forces With A Scientist To Fight AIDS

Upcoming HBO documentary “The Battle Of amfAR” looks at the lives of two very different women – Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor and research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim – who joined forces in 1985 to create America’s first AIDS research foundation.

1. When the first cases of the AIDS virus arose in the U.S. in the early 1980s, the news brought confusion and rampant fear.

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2. There was little to no understanding of how the disease was transmitted…

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3. … and there was absolutely no cure in sight.

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4. The upcoming HBO documentary Battle Of AmfAR tells the story of how two individuals from seperate worlds — actress Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Scientist Dr. Mathilda Krim— attempted to change all that.

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5. In 1985, these two fearless individuals met with a small group of physicians to create the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

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6. Each of them brought their own motivations to fight the disease.

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7. Dr. Mathilde Krim, a Swedish scientist, recognized immediately that this disease could have important socio-political consequences.

She dedicated herself to understanding its transmission and epidemiology.

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8. She focused not only on the scientific aspect of the disease, but also on countering the prejudice and discrimination surrounding the epidemic.

As amfAR’s founding chair, she also served as chairman of the board from 1990 until 2004.

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9. Elizabeth Taylor on the other hand, a beloved Hollywood actress, was inspired after the disease claimed the life of her close friend and fellow actor Rock Hudson.

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10. She used her public persona to bring the issue of the AIDS virus into the mainstream media.

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11. The film uses the partnership of Ms. Taylor and Dr. Krim as a way to explore the history of AIDS, and also look to the future of its treatment.

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12. The directors, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, said of the making of the film:

Our approach was to reconstruct the history of the early years of the crisis through the twin lenses of scientific research - which seemed like a story that hadn’t yet been told - and through the early activism of two powerhouse women.

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13. Released by HBO Documentary FIlms, it will premiere on December 2nd — with a sneak preview on HBO 2 the day before to coincide with World AIDS Day.

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14. Watch the full trailer:

The feature includes interviews from Dr. Krim, gay rights and AIDS activists, physicians, as well as footage of the late Elizabeth Taylor.

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Sarah Karlan is the Deputy LGBT Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Sarah Karlan at
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