I founded RITES OF PASSAGE [which was originally called AIDS Care and Assistance] in January of 1988. Since then we have produced 20 documentary films, many of them award winners; 3 traveling photo/oral history exhibits; provided home care for numerous terminally ill patients and given presentations throughout the US and Canada.
RITES OF PASSAGE/ THE AIDS EPIDEMIC
“They were the worst of times, they were the best of times”
-Charles Dickens<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/118699933″
We never really tried to be a home heath agency though we had a license. Rather we provided friendship, cooking, cleaning, and transportation to the doctor, the hospital etc. Most of our patients then were young, male and gay and many were professional people who suddenly found themselves with nothing….dying.. alone. The movie, Philidelphia pretty much exactly expresses what those times were like.
We were providing home care for several of these patients and then one day something happened which would dramatically change our mission.
We were asked to provide care for a family with AIDS and were once again reminded that the greatest teachers and the angels often come in the most unexpected forms.
JASON THE WAY WE LIVE TODAY
“………For if I were on Earth no more, and happened up on Heaven’s door, I’d see an angel dressed in white, my son to greet me..a beautiful sight…”
Jim and Gerri Briggs were 24 and 22 years old and their son Jason was six months. A poster book family, Gerri was Hispanic, dark haired and beautiful, Jim was blond, friendly and outgoing. Both had been honor students in high school. Their baby Jason was also beautiful: chubby and wise beyond his years. Never able to really speak, he communicated everything with his large, brown eyes. An old wise soul.
The Briggs family had no money-AIDS took everything they had. We had no money either but somehow, with the help of devoted and dedicated caregivers we provided care for Jason until his death at the age of 2.
Jim and Gerri wanted to make a short film about their experience, something that would help others. My son, Andy was then majoring in Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas and so we were able to make the film they wanted.
Jason-the way they live today simply put, is a short film about living with AIDS, about being 22 and 24 years old, watching your baby die and knowing that you also are destined to die…of AIDS. More than that however, it is a story about courage, about appreciation and making the most of each day.
At that time, I had a small grant to educate community and church groups about AIDS as there was a lot of ignorance, judgment and prejudice. I remember showing ‘Jason’ to an adult Sunday school class at an Episcopal church in Austin. This group was made up of well off, people from the upper class who would likely never have to encounter AIDS in any form. I remember watching the audience change as they watched the film: from standoffish and judging to compassion and understanding, to actually [some of them] wanting to help
Because of Jason-the way they live today , I discovered the tremendous power of film to reach an audience on a very deep level, the power to create change, to inspire, to bring people together.
And from that time on, our mission became education-we could reach a much larger audience through the visual arts and to date, we, my son Andy Pickard and I have produced about 20 documentary films, many of them award winning, as well as 3 photo/oral history exhibits: on AIDS, on Aging and on Loss and Grief.
Our current project is a documentary on the US Prison System which is desperately in need of reform..here’s the preview of THE LIGHT IN THE SHADOW
CONTRIBUTIONS TO RITES OF PASSAGE: