Spanning the pre-AIDS era of the 1970s up to today, the story of Gaétan Dugus – aka Patient Zero, serves as the perfect microcosm of the disease’s evolution in America: The interruption of a new sexual liberation, an uncertain future full of unanswered questions, lives taken in their prime, the search for answers, the arrival of flawed conclusions, and the new clarity brought about by scientific progress, replacing the confusion and hysteria of the ’80s. In telling this story, Patient Zero will also explore timely themes about fear, the demonizing of the unknown and the damage that can be caused by false, simplistic narratives. With unique access to those closest to Gaétan Dugas and key players in the story of how the Patient Zero theory was created and ultimately dismantled, the film weaves social history and scientific investigation with the poignant human narrative of an individual whose life and legacy became intrinsically and tragically linked with AIDS and the long-accepted controversial theory of how it arrived and spread through America. Combining candid testimony, evocative personal and social archive and a judicious use of stylized recreations, the film adopts the pace and tone of a crime drama: establishing the accepted version of events before immersing ourselves in the reopening of an investigation, the revelation of a grave injustice and the clearing of an innocent man’s name.
Killing Patient Zero
01: Killing Patient Zero
Gaetan Dugas was openly gay. In early 1980s he contracted what was termed "gay cancer". He provided blood samples and 72 names of his former sex partners. Dugas was demonized for his promiscuity and wrongfully identified as patient zero.