In the darkest days of the AIDS pandemic, two very different women – Hollywood superstar Elizabeth Taylor and research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim – joined forces to create amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research), America’s first AIDS research foundation. The fight against HIV/AIDS would never be the same again.
Directed by Rob Epstein (HBO’s Oscar®-winning “Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt”) and Jeffrey Friedman (HBO’s Emmy®-winning “The Celluloid Closet”), and executive produced by iconic New York fashion designer and amfAR chairman Kenneth Cole, "THE BATTLE OF AMFAR" tells the story of the unlikely pairing of these extraordinary women, who came together to fight the disease.
In 1981, research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim learned of unusual cancer cases, all of which involved gay men, that were showing up in the medical practice of a friend. A politically and socially active New Yorker, she was eager to learn all she could about the disease, and when people began to die, the potential magnitude of the problem became a concern. In response, Dr. Krim and a few colleagues committed their own money to gaining a better understanding of the disease.
AIDS research found an unlikely ally in Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor, who was devastated by the loss of her good friend, actor Rock Hudson, to the disease. When Dr. Krim called Taylor to see if she would be interested in getting involved with the cause, the actress agreed immediately, and amfAR, the first national organization to mobilize the scientific community in the fight against AIDS, was born. As they started speaking out about the disease and the need for research, Krim recalled that Taylor “was terrific. She was moving. The public responded to her.”
While Dr. Krim focused on energizing the scientific community through her professional, political and social connections, Elizabeth Taylor worked alongside activist groups and supported groundbreaking legislation such as The Ryan White CARE Act, leveraging her celebrity to bring media attention to HIV/AIDS.
Taylor delivered emotional testimony before Congress, declaring, “No one is safe…It is not just a minority disease. It belongs to all of us. I ask here and now for the national leadership that is necessary to fully appropriate this bill. Because I will continue to come and ask for it again, and again…And I will not be silenced, and I will not give up, and I will not be ignored.” She pressured President Reagan to acknowledge the existence of HIV/AIDS as a worldwide pandemic and convinced him to speak at an amfAR fundraiser. (Source: HBO)
In the darkest days of the AIDS pandemic, two women from very different walks of life unite to take a stand. Two-time Academy Award®-winner Rob Epstein and his longtime collaborator Jeffrey Friedman, the creative forces behind The Celluloid Closet, tell the story of the extraordinary moment when Dr. Mathilde Krim and Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor launched the country’s first AIDS research foundation.