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For AIDS activist OCCUPY felt familiar, and for many OCCUPY activists, there was something exciting about (re)connecting with ACT UP. Last month OCCUPY and ACT UP came together to screen UNITED IN ANGER: A History of ACT UP. Writer Christa Orth was there and reports back.

On September 20th, the Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side in New York City filled with an audience eager to see United in Anger: A History of ACT UP. Members and former-members of ACT UP New York and Occupy hosted a free screening and rousing conversation about the two groups, who have been compared frequently to each other.

Event organizer Sofia Gallisá Muriente, is an Occupy activist who, after seeing United in Anger in the theater, wanted to bring the two groups together as “an opportunity to draw connections, share skills, compare strategies, reflect on our mutual past and gear up for future struggles.”

Director Jim Hubbard introduced the film, explaining United in Anger has two purposes 1.) to put AIDS activism square into U.S. history where it belongs 2.) to teach and inspire audiences to create and sustain their own effective social movements. United in Anger succeeds in doing both, judging by audience reactions.

After the film, Sofia moderated a discussion between Jim Hubbard, ACT UP activists Ann Northrop, Jim Eigo, and Bill Dobbs, and the audience, many of whom were Occupy activists. It was most inspiring to hear seasoned ACT UP activists encouraging the Occupy movement to keep the pressure on, and to not give up. Though Occupy has been criticized for a lack of focus, Ann Northrop made the astute point that Occupy Wall Street had been tremendously effective at getting the world’s attention about growing economic disparity in the United States.

After the event, social media was alight with praise for United in Anger and the ensuing conversation. Audience member Emily Alexander wrote, "So glad I made it tonight! Inspired and motivated by the accomplishments of ACT UP and the shared strategies and dialogue: reverence versus consensus, teach-ins, media tactics..."

Sage Jacobs wrote, "…the lecture and film meant a lot on so many levels. It meant a lot in regards to AIDS activism and fighting for queer rights, in regards to Occupy, and in regards to other forms of activism I do. It also made me think a lot about how to properly and effectively organize in regards to protesting and activism, how to connect, and gave me good tips on how to get to the next level. It's also good to see how small groups of people are always the ones who make change happen…The film was really incredibly done on so many levels and such an important document of both AIDS and queer history.”

Photo credit: Ali Cotterill

BIO: Christa Orth writes for the ACT UP Oral History Project, is on the board of MIX NYC: Queer Experimental Film Festival, and is a proud Lambda Literary Fellow. Follow her on Twitter @christamaeorth.