Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Anibal Lleras, Justina Machado, Matt Barr, Jennifer Liu, Hale Appleman
Director: Nick Oceano
Genres: Drama, Television, Gay & Lesbian
The true story of Pedro Zamora. — Celebrity. Activist. Icon. — In 1994, Bunim/Murray Productions made the ground-breaking decision to cast openly gay, HIV-positive Cuban-American Pedro Zamora as part of MTV s The Real World:... more »
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Welcome back, Pedro
James Hiller | Beaverton, OR | 07/09/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a personal review. Back at the time the Real World: San Francisco premiered, I was just coming out. I was fascinated, absolutely fascinated, watching Pedro Zamora, a gay man living with AIDS, coping and educating others about his disease. It was nearly revolutionary. Here I sat, watching this man, who showed me there was absolutely nothing wrong with being gay. It's about time that for this wonderful movie, simply called "Pedro".
Scribed by Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, "Pedro" tells the story of Zamora, both of his life and his involvement with MTV's Real World series. Cast in the third season as part of the San Francisco cast, Zamora gave America a face of a person living with AIDS, and would begin to change the way the country dealt with the crisis. The bulk of the movie is really about Pedro's life, his coming to America from Cuba, his coming out, his acceptance of his HIV status, to his role as activist and educator.
Alex Loynaz takes on the title role with sincerity and reverence. The opening scenes show Pedro's desire to get on the Real World to further advance his AIDS and HIV education. He's cast and thrown into the world of reality TV, which is set up immediately as more staged then one would think, pausing for tape reloads and setting up scenes of moving into the house. He befriends a "bed wetting liberal" Judd Winick (Hale Appleman), who's own personal struggle with Pedro's disease provides a way for everyone to grow along with him.
Fortunately, the film doesn't dwell too much in the Real World house, thereby denying Puck taking control of the movie as he did the show. Before long, the taping ends, and Pedro decides to stay in San Francisco to further his relationship with Sean Sasser (DaJuan Johnson), which is given much, much wonderful airtime. Seeing the two together, especially as Pedro gets sicker, is apropos and touching.
Deciding to return to Miami as his health worsens, we are able to jaunt back in time to learn about Pedro's early life. With only some of his family leaving Cuba, Pedro must live in Miami with his mother, father, and sister. After his mother passes away from cancer, his sister steps up and becomes very close to him. Played by the highly missed and amazing actress Justina Machado (Six Feet Under), Mily struggles to accept his brother, and her support isn't always constant, but her love is.
Much of the movie deals with Pedro's health decline, and possibly too much. Are we left to only remember Pedro as a victim or as an activist? What are his motivations from accepting his HIV status to AIDS educator? Black's screenplay nearly remains silent on the issue, other than a early blessing in his life saying he would be destined to be a voice in the world.
Which he definitely is. I'll never forget the day that Pedro died. The country knew it was coming, watching his health decline on the show, even drawing comment from then president Bill Clinton about his work. The movie "Pedro" attempts to bring to the forefront his mission in life, to educate, to prevent. Has the United States listened? As Bill Clinton himself says in the introduction to the movie, HIV infections are back on the rise. It's time we, once again, listen to Pedro."
If you can't get enough of Pedro
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 07/01/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is not a rehash of the best season of "The Real World." It's a made-for-TV movie, so it's not Oscar material. Still, it has a lot of merit. I would recommend this for multiple audiences.
To me, what was best is the diversity. How often do you see a white straight guy, his Asian girlfriend, a Black gay man, and an HIV-positive Latino on TV and treating each other as equals? The two couples show both similarities and differences between gays and straights. I wish more media works would be inclusive along race, gender, sexuality, and ability lines.
Again, there's not much Puck or "Real World" here. This focuses on the events before and after the series. At one point, then President Clinton calls Pedro to thank him. If that's what happened, then it's totally fair to include it. I just wonder if GOP viewers would deem this "liberal media bias."
How often does one get to see two gay men of color kissing on TV or DVD? This work was revolutionary, just as the series was. The series took place before all the new hysteria over "the down low." This film proves that not all gay men of color are closeted. There are gay men of color not ashamed to love men of color and not care if the majority disapproves.
Viewers who have had family members come out or have cared for terminally ill relatives may truly relate to this. The care that Pedro's sister gave to him was incredibly admirable. Both the real woman and the actress playing her must be applauded. The facts behind this work happened long before Massachusetts legalized gay marriage this decade. At the time that Pedro and Sean were exchanging rings, they would have had real marriage rights nowhere. Their commitment celebration took place in California, a state in which voters rejected gay marriage recently. This film shows schisms between gay partners and their in-laws which touch upon why gay marriage is needed.
The work concludes by saying Sean is still alive. This contrasts to what internet sources state. I don't know about the real Pedro, but the actor who played the role has a nice, delicious chest that the film highlights for maximum effect."
A Fitting Tribute
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The film PEDRO is a combination of documentary and cinematic drama, and as such it could have been an awkward pastiche, an attempt to honor the memory of a brave young man who courageously faced classrooms of children and many different public forums as a man living with HIV, offering the general public the opportunity to learn about the disease in hopes of preventing its spread. Instead what happens is this film as written by Dustin Lance Black after a story by Paris Barclay and as directed with sensitive taste by Nick Oceano is a completely satisfying drama that just happens to add film clips form the well-known life of Pedro Zamora to enhance the dignity of this story.
After a rather startling opening sequence the film begins in Cuba as families lined up to cross to America: among those families was the Zamora mother (Teresa Hernández), father (Anibal O. Lleras) and only three of their children, including young Pedro and Mily. They settle in Miami where Pedro grows up remembering his past in Cuba and concentrating on his world of fantasy with his beloved mother. Pedro matures to a teenager (Alex Loynaz), a handsome and affable young lad whose sexual preference is men. At the tender age of 17 he is found to be HIV positive and his sister Mily (Justina Machado) pledges to stay by his side through all of his trials. Pedro is encouraged by various people to come out about his situation and indeed he does, flying to San Francisco to be on the Real World reality show. There he makes friends with his fellow 'roommates' (especially Judd/ Hale Appleman and Pam/ Jenn Liu). On the show, in front of the public television audience he can be himself - a normal young guy who happens to have AIDS. He meets Sean Sasser (DaJuan Johnson) and they eventually marry on the television series. Pedro becomes a very popular speaker and advocate for AIDS prevention. Once the series is over Pedro becomes ill and goes from a New York hospital to his home in Miami, diagnosed with an incurable manifestation of his disease. The manner in which Pedro and his family cope with all aspects of Pedro's life closes the film.
Alex Loynaz is excellent as Pedro, if not the magnetic personality of his true counterpart, and his scenes with Justina Machado are particularly profound and deeply touching. The entire cast is well selected and offers different insights to the life of Pedro Zamora. There won't be a dry eye after watching this tender film. It is well worth spending time getting to know another unsung hero. Grady Harp, July 09"
H. Ferguson | 07/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is well done and tells the story of an amazing man. It sickens me that his groundbreaking season of the Real World is not available on DVD."