Film About Survival Without HIV Drugs Removed From Portobello Film Festival After Threats From Buzzfeed

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By Elizabeth Ely


In Film Festivals, Who Gets to Tell Their Story?


Joan Shenton and Andi Reiss’ film Positive Hell has again been removed from a film festival–this time the Portobello Film Festival in London. It chronicles five people’s experience following an HIV “diagnosis,” and their choice to exit the HIV/AIDS Pharmceutical State in the presence of a diagnostic omen.

[The Truth Barrier covered it, here and here.]

At 28 minutes, it packs a rare punch–having twice been banned from film festivals that previously selected it.

First, the London International Film Festival in April caved under pressure from letters sent by parties said to be LGBT student groups. And now the Portobello Film Festival, also in London, has as of September 7 pulled the film from its screening lineup on Saturday night, similarly citing two phone calls, the source of which it won’t disclose.

At the time of the LIFF’s action, we learned that censorship wasn’t exactly the word for it. These days, they call it “no-platforming.”

[Editor’s Note:  According to an article in the UK Journalism magazine The Tab, a top UK Barrister has found that “no-platforming” may be illegal. From an article on

“Christopher McCall QC was commissioned to write a 37-page legal opinion by the National Union of Students. It found that no-platform policies are only legal when applied to members of a proscribed group such as terrorists. Otherwise, the policies breach Section 43 of the 1986 Education Act.” ]

When a festival decides one day to accept and screen a film, then suddenly decides not to, based on “feedback” from an unnamed “public” that has never shown its face and never rioted dangerously in the streets or shot up any cinema multiplexes over this film or any other of its kind, you have to kind of wonder, don’t you?

The evidence in the latest case shows that Patrick Strudwick, LGBT editor of BuzzFeed News, found out about the “no-platforming” even before the filmmakers did. He triumphantly reported on Wednesday that the decision came “following a request by BuzzFeed News to comment on their decision to show the film.” Producer and narrator Joan Shenton reported that she only spoke with festival spokesperson Jonathan Barnett the next morning.

Apparently, a film festival can back down before threats and still claim it stands for something. Joan reports that Barnett claimed to run “an anti-establishment and counter-cultural festival” while folding under threat and not disclosing where threats came from. There was a hint of funding being at stake. And he’d appreciate her being “slightly indulgent” and not causing a fuss in the media.

The thing is, censorship is about who doesn’t get to tell their story. The five subjects of Positive Hell, who were then alive in Spain 26 years after being informed they had months to live, told Shenton and director Andi Reiss what happened. One of them died after the filming, and Strudwick decided that was the only story worth telling.  Four are still alive, and AIDS stories are almost always about death.

Is the film balanced and unbiased? Not exactly. Shenton editorialized a little by framing the issues, and Reiss sequenced the film footage in the editing room—but only to contextualize with what the storytellers said.

Fortunately, you can listen to the stories and judge for yourself. The movie has been posted at all this time. You can decide if it’s worth protesting in front of The KPH at the Kensington Park Hotel, 139 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

I talked to Dr. Manolo Garrido Sotelo, one of the four, in 2015 and posted English and Spanish versions.

There are these LBGT groups around, and they want you to know, as always, that they’re pissed off. Not actual LGBT people, mind you, because after the LIFF no-platforming incident, the film screened at London Soho to no protests whatsoever.

These are not the people you and I know, whom we sometimes like and sometimes find as annoying as anyone else, who just happen to be gay or what-have-you.

These are, instead, the ones we never meet as people, only as a bloc of opinions-on-legs we’re not allowed to dislike, and they sometimes show up for parades with their shirts off and their hair dyed in unnatural colors. They have spokespersons, to keep the actual people they claim to represent from speaking for themselves—often implying their constituency is childlike and likely to get “confused” if presented with too much information.

This LGBT—excuse me, “LGBTQ”—class professes itself satisfied with the soundbites about “HIV” and “AIDS” that have been blasted at them for 35 years.  That’s cool.  They shouldn’t go see a movie that puts different facts in front of them.  They might let others see it and tell them how bad it is.

What’s downright hilarious is that the LGBTQ-thing is naughty and rebellious. Which is what making documentaries that some people find shocking is all about, too. You mean to tell me, they’re coloring their hair pink and marching in a parade to support pharmaceutical companies?

If the four people in Spain don’t get to tell their stories, then who does? Certainly, LGBTs and Qs will be the first to be shut up in this sensitive climate of ideas.  It’s a strange time we live in, when we all get to tell our stories so endlessly on social media that they drown each other out, yet the big, date-night movie screen is still reserved for the grownups-in-charge and their propaganda.

They get to tell their stories, as the only thing.

–Elizabeth Ely


Additional Links:


You can see the film free of charge here:

And here is Dr Garrido’s website



10 thoughts on “Film About Survival Without HIV Drugs Removed From Portobello Film Festival After Threats From Buzzfeed”

  1. I wish this movie was shown in my country (Chile) in some sort of movie festival. Her the priests on white coats of this HIV church, and some gay organizations, are bullying every young gay male into taking this HIV antibody test to put them on retroviral chemo inmediately… The other story of HIV is never heard of here, and young LGTBQ people, especially young males, think there is no other way around other than the expensive (and toxic) antiretrovirals.

    Most of them dream of “being undetectable” to not “infect” anyone, some think their healh is better now on theraphy as their CD4 counts are seemingly increasing.

    Is beyond me how all this bunch of lies has perpetuated all these years. Is beyond me how this HIV dictatorship finds new ways of naming things out of convenience: this “not-platforming” thing is new to me.

    Thank you guys for the good work. From the other side of the Ecuator.

    1. So glad to know you are there, Cristian Lewis, with knowledge of the Truth not blinded by the HIV lie.
      Sadly it is the same here in the u.s. with white coated priests of the HIV church convincing the masses that an undetectable viral load of a phantom pathogen achievable only through toxic chemotherapy defines survival.
      It is comforting, Hopeful and encouraging to know that there are seeds of Truth like You scattered throughout this world that is so polluted and poisoned with overgrown, out of control lies and fallacies.

      Thank You for the Hope You allow by your very being.

  2. so grateful for this film, thank you. Celia,
    There is a very special, very rare and deep event, taking place in central France at the end of next week. Ofcourse, that is far away from your island, but for some reason, I had the impulse to tell you.
    kind regards

  3. Never ceases to amaze me when despite being unable to respond to or counter my recitation of irrefutable fact demonstrating thirty year failure of every prerequisite, prediction, threat and promise made with the unproven but generally accepted as gospel truth 1984 proposal of the HIV/AIDS theory that activists, task force staff/volunteers,, healthcare workers, those “living with HIV”, their non-infected lovers and even the supposed “free-thinkers” at the fasely named center for inquiry are unable to consider that their dogmatic faith and belief in a phantom viral threat is false.
    Though claiming “countless” studies validate their faith and fear they are never able to cite any specific study, paper or report detailing when, where, how or by whom it was officially demonstrated and declared proven that immune failure is caused by HIV.
    The power of faith.
    The power of fear.
    HIV has become their unseen, unquestionable god.

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