Killing Patient Zero

Director: Laurie Lynd
2019 | Canada | 98m
GENRE: AIDS/HIV | Biography/History | Gay | Health/Medicine | Local Interest/Subjects | Politics | Queer
SECTION: Documentary Features | Famous Faces
Expected Guests: Features Q&A with director Laurie Lynd, subject Michael Denneny, subject Marcus Conant, M.D., and subject Gaetane Urevig.


Right-wing bigots exploited AIDS to demonize gay men, and no one was more villainized than Gaétan Dugas, the Canadian flight attendant dubbed “Patient Zero.” In this groundbreaking documentary, director Laurie Lynd (Schitt’s Creek; Breakfast with Scot, Frameline34) explodes the myth of “The Monster Who Brought AIDS to North America” using beautifully framed interviews with Dugas’s friends along with the scientists unlocking the earliest AIDS cases. The Gaétan we meet here is a playful, complicated soul who wore eyeshadow to work, cruised in short-shorts, and went out of his way to help CDC researchers crack the mystery of “gay cancer.”

Lynd also looks at San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts, who doggedly kept the politics of AIDS in the headlines. Shilts’ landmark book, And the Band Played On, perpetuated the Patient Zero myth—a complicated reality that Lynd takes great care to unpack. Killing Patient Zero is an important work of queer archaeology that shines an empathetic light on a generation traumatized not just by a virus but by society’s blame and vitriol.


Buying Note: This digital screening is available to view between 12:01am Thursday, September 17 and 11:59pm Sunday, September 27. We suggest watching it at 4:00pm Sunday, September 20 followed by the Q&A.

Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley

San Francisco AIDS FoundationGLBT Historical Society

  • Language: In English and French with English subtitles