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From the Ashes Risen
$60 raised
1% of $5k goal
4 contributors
5 Years running
This documentary film is about a small, Chicago support group of aging HIV+ gay men, all diagnosed during the height of the AIDS epidemic in '80s and early '90s. It explores memory, happiness, illness and grief through weekly documented healing circles.
SYNOPSIS: A feature-length documentary focusing on a small group of aging gay men in Chicago who live with AIDS, and who meet weekly for a safe, supportive healing circle to discuss their lives, memories, happiness, illness, grief, and anger with loosing most of their loved ones to AIDS, while trying to age gracefully with this disease. There will also be one-on-one interviews with each of the men to learn more intimately about their interior lives.


ABOUT THE PROJECT: In the 1980's and 1990's the nation was hit by a holocaust of outrageous, shameless and tragic proportions through the disease we now call HIV/AIDS. All other previous documentaries of the disease have focused their stories on how the epidemic effected only the communities in New York and San Francisco, as if there was no suffering in any other urban area in the country. In Chicago, with it's Midwest conservatism, the community had to face entirely different sets of stigmas, hatreds, service-providing difficulties, medical care, and major issues surrounding the quality of life and even the quality of death. The Chicago Dept. of Public Health did absolutely nothing to intervene. Their silence was deafening. It was exactly like the silence of the White House administration during the first six years of the Plague. In one AIDS unit alone in Chicago, seven to twelve magnificent young Gay and bisexual men in their prime died each day, every day, for more than twelve years. Funerals and Memorial Services were daily occurrences, sometimes twice in one day.

The purpose of the film is to document the lives of seven of these Chicago men, intimately exploring their lives leading up to their illnesses, their lives while sick and living in a community of incessant illness and death, and their lives as they have been living them as the "aging first wave" of those of us who managed to survive our illnesses. There is little information about this lost generation, this generation of silence, that is the walking ill. How did they manage to survive and in some cases even thrive when they had been told that they were headed for imminent death as they experienced the horrible, excruciating infections that brought it about . How are they living now? What is their health like? What is their social life like? How do they subsist financially? Where do they find support and love? How do they deal with the ever-present grief and anger that lie just below the surface? How do they live their own particular spiritualities? How do those many who suffer severe PTSD from fighting in a trench warfare epidemic manage to live with such psychic and spiritual pain on a daily basis? Do they use social service agencies and case workers, or have they gone back to full-time work? Are they in a committed relationship? The film will document their daily activities for survival and health, both physical, mental, and spiritual. These are exciting, colorful stories of life in the midst of death, of light in the midst of darkness, of love in the midst of hate which was often self-inflicted because of the spiritual dilemma of the disease.


"From the Ashes Risen" needs your financial help in radical ways. We have everything in place to make the film, but we need start-up funds to actually begin the journey. Won't you please recognize the magnitude and the vital importance of archiving these stories of courage and strength? Tribal Elder Productions, NFP 501(c)(3), needs your support

All donations are tax-deductible.

1) Secure and pay for our filming crew and necessary equipment.
2) Secure and pay for location and group space, transportation and cab vouchers for the participants.
2) Secure studio rental, a sound technician and pay for us to create a musical score for the film.


Roger Goodman, M.Div. (DIRECTOR) is a long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (30 years), Stonewall Rebellion veteran and recently published his first memoir, "Thoughts of a Tribal Elder: One Queerman's Journey from the Ashes Risen".

Randall Jenson (PRODUCER / EXECUTIVE EDITOR) is the Executive Director of SocialScope Productions (, creator of the 50Faggots documentary series and LGBTQ Youth Advocate for Safe Connections, a St. Louis anti-violence organization.

Boris Stout (DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY). In 1995, Stout completed a four-year MA in documentary direction at the NFTS (National Film & Television School) in London, England. He studied under the American filmmaker Herb di Gioia and in the final year did individual ‘internships’ with the pioneer verité cinematographer Ricky Leacock in Paris and the documentary director Al Maysles in NY. His graduation film ‘God’s Alcatraz’ won awards at the Paris Ethnographic Film Bilan, the London Film Festival and the Margaret Mead Documentary Film Festival in NY.

Sheldon Atovsky (COMPOSER) is a Chicagoan and has composed over fifty works for solo voice, chorus, piano, instrumental and/or vocal chamber and large forces, including a children's opera, a musical comedy, incidental music, dance scores and multi-media circuses.

Tom Fransen, LCSW (HEALING CIRCLE THERAPIST), originally from Rockford, Illinois, he currently resides in Chicago and works as a psychotherapist in private practice. Tom's path towards this project is winding, first involving the complexities of recognizing his homosexuality when AIDS first appeared and later evolved into the pandemic it has become. He was 11 years old in 1981, experiencing puberty during the early days of the epidemic, which also happened to be the most spiteful. One need only recall Ryan White's story or the myriad religious organizations decrying AIDS as God's punishment. To be sexually aware at a time when being gay was equated with both illness and evil wounded his sense of self and shaped his relationship with both HIV and sexuality itself.


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