Stirring Fauci Documentary Opens at Vogue Theater
A man who personifies the old adage “walk softly and carry a big stick”, Dr. Anthony Fauci has always seemingly been a mild mannered man with the strength to stand up to his adversaries. “Fauci”, a new documentary from National Geographic Films, tells the story of the doctor’s life in the limelight as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci has spent his life trying to save people’s lives. For these efforts he has regularly been accused of being a murderer. He stood at the center of the AIDS crisis during the 1980s and 90s, when HIV was an assured death sentence. The good doctor wanted to save lives, but the gay community, the primary victims of the HIV virus, weren’t having it. Larry Kramer, the founder of Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) penned a scathing op-ed in which he called out Fauci’s alleged incompetence. Fauci took it all in stride, realizing that AIDS activists could be helpful in working with scientists to find effective treatments for this terrifying disease.
Fauci had the strength of his convictions, even attending a heated Act Up meeting in which he faced his detractors head on, winning their grudging respect. In one interview seen in the film we meet a long term AIDS survivor who regained his health due to the drug cocktails that became available in the mid-90s. The man thanks Fauci for everything he has done.
Thirty years later Fauci would face similar opposition as the Covid 19 pandemic ravaged the world.
“I’m the enemy of a whole subset of people,” he says in the film. “Because I represent something that’s uncomfortable for them. It’s called the truth.”
Filmmakers John Hoffman and Janet Tobias do not attempt to preach to those who would vilify the doctor, no doubt realizing that those who hate him, those who demand that he be fired, wouldn’t go see the film anyway. Instead, they let viewers get to know a man who occasionally made mistakes, such as during the early days of the current pandemic, when he suggested that wearing masks wasn’t necessary. But he always had the best interests of the public at heart. He’s a man who ultimately did a great deal of good.
And he has courage. He had no qualms about contradicting former President Donald Trump, who went on to refer to Fauci as “a disaster”.
The film lets viewers see just how nasty his detractors have gotten. At one point the doctor talks about the threatening phone messages received by his wife, which resulted in her having to change her number.
As a film, “Fauci” stands as a fascinating portrait of a brilliant and complicated man, though it would have been nice if the filmmakers had spent more time on Fauci’s youth in Brooklyn, NY and on his relationship with his family. This would have given viewers more insight into what drew him to pursue a medical and scientific career.
Still, it’s a good film worth seeing. Fauci is playing at the Vogue Theater.
In Person Q & A WITH DIRECTOR JOHN HOFFMAN AND INTERVIEW SUBJECT PETER STALEY
DATE: SUN. SEPT. 12, 2021
TIME: STERT THE 4:00 PM SCREENING
LOCATION: VOGUE THEATRE IN SF
WHO: DIRECTOR JOHN HOFFMAN and INTERVIEW SUBJECT PETER STALEY