Verizon Media, with the help of Oscar-winner Julianne Moore, announced during its Newfront event late Tuesday in New York that it has acquired and plans to release the HIV/AIDS crisis documentary “5B.”
The film focuses on the uplifting story of a small collection of nurses and caregivers in San Francisco General Hospital’s ward 5B, who banded together to provide courage and compassion to those devastated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early ’80s. It’s directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Dan Krauss (“Extremis”).
Moore, who has been a long-time activist for the HIV/AIDS cause, watched “5B” and was moved by the nurses and caregivers, and the compassion and bravery they showcased during the time of Ward 5B. She took the stage during the event alongside the nurses and caregivers from the film to announce the project.
“We believe in empowering and bringing communities together, and elevating voices that deserve to be heard,” Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan said in a statement. “The heroes of 5B will continue to inspire the next generation of leaders and Verizon Media is proud to help champion that mission across its global footprint in support of this groundbreaking film.”
According to the release, “5B,” tells the inspirational story of the caregivers who to action to comfort, protect and care for the patients of the first AIDS ward unit in the U.S. “5B” is told through first-person testimony of the nurses and caregivers who built Ward 5B in 1983 at San Francisco General Hospital, their patients, loved ones, and staff who volunteered to create care practices based in humanity and holistic well-being during a time of great uncertainty. The result is a candid and bittersweet monument to a pivotal moment in American history and a celebration of quiet heroes worthy of renewed recognition.
The film, presented by Verizon Media’s RYOT, is slated to premiere at LA Pride as part of the Verizon Media’s sponsorship of the annual LGBTQ event. “5B” will also have a theatrical run, debuting this summer in June, with international releases and VOD distribution this fall.
The release is timed to this year’s sixth annual Global Fund’s Global Replenishment Conference to provide a renewed opportunity for a cultural discussion around the urgency to raise awareness around the ongoing global HIV/AIDS crisis.
“In today’s world we need stories that inspire us more than ever and remind us of the power of ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” said Alex Wallace, general manager of News and Entertainment and Studios at Verizon Media/RYOT, in a statement. “We are humbled to share the story of ‘5B’s’ compassion, humanity and selflessness.”
“5B” was commissioned by Johnson & Johnson from UM Studios, Highway 61 Films and Saville Productions. Verizon Media said, however, that the filmmakers were granted complete editorial control over the documentary.
Krauss was nominated for an Academy Award in 2017 for his documentary short “Extremis,” about the doctors, families and patients forced to make end-of-life decisions. He also garnered a nomination in 2006 for his documentary “The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club,” about the suicide of South African photojournalist Kevin Carter, who was known for his harrowing photo of a starving girl being stalked by a vulture.