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New KPBS documentary explores the AIDS crisis in San Diego

New KPBS documentary explores the AIDS crisis in San Diego

KPBS is premiering “Expect A Miracle: Finding Light in the Darkness of a Pandemic,” a new documentary telling the dual story of the AIDS crisis in San Diego and Fraternity House - the only hospice in North San Diego County that took patients near death to give them a safe place to die with dignity and love. “Expect A Miracle” made its world premiere on KPBS TV on Tuesday night and will soon be available for online streaming.

“I was initially hired to make a short grant video for Fraternity House. I really didn't know what the place was about,” says Jonathan Hammond, director and producer. “When I walked in the front door, it felt like it was like walking into a brick wall in that I was overcome with a mysterious, beautiful, horrifying, unknown emotion. I immediately asked my host what this place was exactly. It was a house where people had to come to die from AIDS. But now it's a place where they come to live. Reflexively, I asked if I can make a documentary about this place, which isn't anyone's normal reaction judging from my host's expression, but she immediately agreed.”

The riveting film centers on a handful of everyday people who became heroes, caring for a marginalized and persecuted population in a time of heightened fear, misinformation and mass rejection from their families, society and the government.

As scientific advancements progressed, changing the nature of the disease, Fraternity House also changed its general purpose - now giving the same population a place to re-learn how to live. And how to love.

“The fact that a movie about surviving a pandemic is coming out right now is a coincidence - but one we really need. I want to tell this story because we live in dark times and I want to remind people that others found light in the dark. I want to remind people that they can be the light. A lot of people need to know that right now,” says Hammond.

The film is part of KPBS Explore, a local programming initiative to grow the quality and quantity of uniquely local content.

“Expect A Miracle: Finding Light in the Darkness of a Pandemic” will air again on KPBS-2 on Thursday, June 11 at 9 pm and will soon be available for online streaming. The documentary's trailer is available for viewing below.