Review – Positively False: Birth of a Heresy @ The LOST Theatre, 21/11/11

About six months ago I attended a screening of the dissident HIV/AIDS film House of Numbers, after which I was briefly interviewed as part of a vox pops for a British/European cousin-film that premiered last night.

I attended partly to have my ego stimulated but deep down I knew that it was likely that my face and words would be in the Recycle Bin because the film was to talk about the problem and not the solution(s). I was right and I didn’t take this to heart, but amusingly my name appeared in the rolling credits. It was a full, albeit small, theatre too so I would’ve liked to have a remote to pause it for a second.

Positively False: Birth of a Heresy is the first full-length film (90mins in length) by award-winning documentary maker Joan Shenton whose Meditel programmes (Dispatches etc.) stimulated the brain long before “I’m an idiot watch me eat some bugs.” subverted the main British channels. Much of the film presents nothing new as it largely relies on 25yrs of archive footage, but sequenced into a whole it does make an intriguing documentary on why so much (still) remains unclear about the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. It’s not very dissimilar to Brent Leung’s House of Numbers – in fact a number of the same clips were used – but this one would probably attract this side of the Atlantic more if one had the chance to choose between them in a rental shop.

Positively False… has already won one award, gaining 3rd place at the Lucerne Film Festival for a tiny pre-screening (though the cameraman who I chatted to, modestly, proposed that this was perhaps out of sympathy), and it seems to be headed for Europe over the next months, though I’m not sure how much of a dent it will make. This is an independent film with a subject matter that many find uncomfortable. If the more talked about House of Numbers faded into obscurity I doubt this will fare better; and that’s more a criticism of the environment into which it was birthed. There’s no mention of this even being put online or released on DVD yet.

One of the final points in the film by historian Jad Adams emphasises the current scenario very well: Not much has happened in the last quarter of a century. The Sisyphus rock, as Celia Farber mentioned, is still being pushed. The side of Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier still has the upper hand over the blue corner thanks to how entrenched the current hypothesis is and some unproductive in-squabbling between followers of Peter Duesberg and The Perth Group. It’s hard to see how a resolution will come so clearly, though I believe, in my opinion that a certain type of science will pass the gas to The Perth Group’s igniter. And in fact the chain of events that led me to this screening would lead me to the casino with a bucket of counters. A million on the Aussies! …Later.

Perhaps when the troops are better armed will we see a Galileo-like exoneration as a sequel.

July 21 2012 update: Want to see the film? Click here to see it online for a small fee to help out the film’s producers.



  1. To describe the disputes between the Duesbergian wing of ‘HIV’/AIDS dissidence and the supporters of the science of The Perth Group as ‘unproductive in-squabbling’ is to display a total ignorance of the history of that division, that goes back 20 years, and therefore a serious lack of understanding of the mess that is the ‘science’ of the rag bag of ‘scientists’ that go under the name of ‘RethinkingAIDS’. You therefore do a serious injustice to the issue, notwithstanding that you appear to favour The Perth Group even though without one word of explanation as to why.


    1. Hi Stephen, I’m sorry if you felt my commentary was unhelpful. I fully admit that I don’t understand all the causes of that division. I am mostly neutral between Duesberg and The Perth Group, but the fact that HIV tests have no gold standard means that at least we can say we have tests that are not reliable enough to detect the virus, whether it exists or not.


  2. It is always unhelpful to use such a loaded judgement of anything (and describe it is ‘unproductive in-squabbling’) when you have not first made yourself aware of the nature of the division. That is so obvious as to not require stating.


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