Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 100 min
Zero Patience Productions Ltd.
The first theatrically released feature by director, critic and activist John Greyson, Zero Patience is an outrageous, satiric musical comedy that examines the myths surrounding the origins of AIDS and delivers a scathing indictment of systemic homophobia.
At the centre of the film is a reincarnated Sir Richard Burton (Robinson), renowned Victorian explorer and ethnographer, translator of the Kama Sutra, “discoverer” of the headwaters of the Nile, perhaps most notorious for his exhaustive studies of penis size. Having drunk from the Fountain of Youth, Burton is working at the Toronto Natural History Museum and eagerly sets out to design a sensational multimedia exhibit about the origins of AIDS. The project focuses on Patient Zero (Fauteux), otherwise known as Gaetan Douglas, the infamous French-Canadian flight attendant who was accused of delivering AIDS to North America.
Burton manipulates video interviews with Douglas's doctor, mother, friends and lovers into a fallacious portrait of Douglas as a death-dealing homosexual. Just when Burton’s project — a blend of science, homophobia and hysteria — seems destined for success, he encounters the bewildered ghost of Patient Zero. A pastiche of sketches and styles collectively debunk the various myths about the origins of AIDS. The film incorporates bizarre musical routines, lively choreography and witty camp lyrics.
Greyson drew on influences as diverse as Bertolt Brecht, Busby Berkeley, Michel Foucault and Barbra Streisand to create an audaciously political, cinematically inventive and AIDS-informative work. The film was not widely admired by mainstream critics but was quickly embraced by the gay community, and is now considered a classic of queer cinema.
The film received the Special Jury Prize at the 1993 Festival of Festivals in Toronto.
Source: Take One's Essential Guide to Canadian Film; 1993 Festival of Festivals and 1998 Toronto International Film Festival program books