Updated: May 13, 2021
James Kleinmann, The Queer Review :
“ With an overview of the ACT UP story having been told in compelling and detailed documentaries such as Jim Hubbard’s ‘United in Anger: A History of ACT UP’ and David France’s ‘How to Survive a Plague’, it’s pleasing to now see significant members being focused on individually, such as trans trailblazer Connie Norman, a broadcaster, columnist, and one of the public faces of ACT UP/LA.”
"a treasure trove of archive photographs as it evocatively sets the scene of queer liberation in pre-AIDS San Francisco which the Texas-born Norman experienced “
“ highlights of AIDS Diva come from archive footage of her fiercely articulate and persuasive interviews and cable show appearances “
"...an important and lovingly-crafted tribute to “the self-appointed AIDS Diva” that powerfully makes the case for her as an integral part of LGBTQ+ history and an inspiration to the activists of today.”
Jay Bernard, British Film Institute BFI Flare, Programmer :
“ Alencastre deftly handles this portrait of a political figure, whose HIV diagnosis spurred her eloquent rage against complacency, hatred and denial. Yet Norman is also shown as a nuanced early spokesperson for trans rights, creating an unbreakable bridge between sexuality and gender that we are still crossing today. “
Richard Maguire, The Reviews Hub :
“ the shortest feature playing at this year’s BFI Flare Film Festival, but it certainly is the most powerful"
"this enlightening documentary ensures that her name will never be forgotten."
"such good footage of Norman, and of the protests that it’s a shame when this documentary ends, but it’s an excellent hagiography of a true revolutionary."
Allan Hunter, Screen Daily :
“ a charismatic queer activist gets the tribute she deserves... builds a persuasive case that she should be treasured as a tireless advocate for gay and trans rights and as an individual who built bridges between a range of diverse communities.”
“ The documentary progresses chronologically through protests and vigils, campaigns to secure anti-discrimination legislation and fiery encounters with the implacable hostility of uncaring politicians."
" places Norman’s life within the wider context of the AIDS pandemic and the Los Angeles ACT UP movement.
“ Every step of the chronological account of key events in America’s AIDS crisis reveals a little more about Norman’s personal life.”
“..fondly captures her life as radical activist and feisty charmer, forever seeking ways to unite and celebrate our common humanity.”
Time Out London, [‘5 Films to Stream at BFI Flare’] :
“For anyone who had their heart broken by ‘It’s a Sin’, this doc presents another challenging, emotionally involving perspective on the AIDS crisis. Connie Norman, whose impassioned mission to take down haters, deniers and the complacent burned her into the political consciousness of her time.”
'The Queer Guru' blog, [‘Top Picks of Movies Not to Be Missed: BFI Flare’] :
“ Norman was an imposing figure whose passion for positivity even in this very dark time was nothing less than remarkable. She was a warrior and an icon. She had fit a whole lifetime into her 47 years.”
Jay Bernard, The Face (magazine), BFI Flare Programmer [‘Top Picks’] :
“ The scene in which she argues passionately against the maltreatment of the queer community on television will surely be remembered. ”
Lila Pavings-Franks, 'We Love Cinema' blog, [’10 Must-See films at BFI Flare’] :
“ Bold, brash, and unapologetic as the woman herself, AIDS DIVA: The Legend of Connie Norman is the electrifying tale of one of queer history’s most fierce activists.
“paints a vivid portrait of a political figure who refused to be silenced"
"timely and vital for young queer audiences to learn about their history”
Louis Staples, 'AnOther' blog, [’10 Inspiring LGBTQ+ Films from BFI Flare’]
“ Living in a pandemic for the last year has prompted reflections and debates about the AIDS crisis. It feels like every year that passes new heroes of this difficult chapter in queer history are discovered, and this is proven once again by this fascinating portrait of Connie Norman.”
Cathy Brennan, 'Vodzilla' blog :
“..bountiful historical footage.. proves to be the film’s greatest asset and speaks to the venerable legacy of AIDS activists from Norman’s generation. They took advantage of home video and public access TV to preserve the faces and voices of resistance..”
“ Copious footage of Norman giving speeches at rallies and enjoying herself in home movies give the audience a true sense of the fierce and kind person she was.”
“Her confidence radiates in every frame and her words reverberate through you with their sheer intensity.”
“In a reading of her column where she announces her AIDS diagnosis and that her time is now short, Norman tells the whole of yuppie culture in a low, furious voice: “You disgust me.” It’s devastating. “
"This ability to maintain a broader perspective of the political arena, while still invigorating audiences with the intimacy of the personal, is a great source of strength.
‘AIDS Diva’ remains focused on Norman as an individual activist throughout, yet consistently places her within a wider tapestry of progressive activism in the United States."
“ stresses the importance that histories of resistance have to the contemporary moment. No matter who is in the White House, groups belonging to the religious right continue to get funded and lobby for homophobic or transphobic legislation. Films such as AIDS Diva will be a valuable tool to remind people that the struggle continues in hope and love. “
Jane Douglas-Jones, '500 Days of Films' blog :
“ Norman's weapons were her words - wielded on television shows (she was a natural in front of the camera), in articles and at countless protests and marches.
Warm and caring , Norman was always relatable. She was also unflinchingly honest."
“ Norman understood both the importance of love and its power over hate and fear - even in the darkest of times. In addition to raising awareness about AIDS and HIV, Norman was also an early spokesperson for trans rights - shining a light on trans issues and revealing how trans people felt isolated from the gay liberation movement. "
“ In incredibly moving scenes, we see how Norman sacrificed her own health to raise awareness about issues of sexuality and gender."
“ I am grateful to Dante Alencastre’s powerful and deeply moving film for introducing me to Connie Norman. History must not forget her incredible contribution. "
CG blog :
"Connie Norman was an activist...in the truest sense of the word. As a transwoman, she was the David to the institutional Goliaths. She fought on until the end. What a woman.”
“ gut-wrenching and - ironically - life affirming."
“ This is our history. "
“ So, thank you for giving Connie the respect and recognition she most deservedly deserves. And thank you Connie, for being yourself.”
'Screen Mayhem' blog, [‘A Powerful Testament To An Activist’] :
"The film puts her words in context but never forgets their continued relevance. It’s a testament to a powerful legacy of resistance."
"The film very effectively creates a sense of the scene in 80s San Francisco as a joyously liberated place where gay people walked the streets and staffed the businesses. A powerful sense of community and belonging is recounted, but it stretches beyond good times. Beyond having fun, these groups became essential to the survival of the group. As crisis strikes and the government is completely indifferent to their suffering, partiers become care givers."
"The story of a pandemic sweeping through neighborhoods, disproportionately affecting a vulnerable group of marginalized people is disturbingly relevant. The blaming of the victims, the reluctance to act from those with the power to help, the cruelty of seeing acts of love turned into lethal mistakes, all far too familiar."
"AIDS DIVA offers a great overview of Connie’s passion for her community, her impact, her success and the legacy of her voice. Seeing her in action is inspiring but it’s impossible not to regret the loss of her voice and her effortless eloquence when speaking of compassion and justice.
This film is a fabulous opportunity to familiarize yourself with one of the most bold voices in activism history.”
'Slacker Cinema' blog :
“..could be used as a guide on how to become an activist. At a time where we have hoards of people campaigning across the world over social, racial and healthcare issues, AIDS Diva is incredibly timely in its portrayal of how to make change through the power of making your collective voice heard."
“ a snapshot of a less sympathetic time for the trans community”
“ Connie's voice was such an important one to include in the fight against AIDS, and this film should allow a new generation to appreciate her contribution to the cause. “
“ With an acknowledgement that they weren't just fighting for themselves but for future generations, AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman is a document of a time of fear and change, and a compelling, powerful account of political activism at work.”
'the gayly mirror' blog :
“ The film really spoke to me, probably because the threats of fighting a devastating virus and a lack of government care, trans oppression and police violence are still, tragically, as true today in the UK as they were in 1980s and 1990s Los Angeles.”
"She was angry,... but she was also funny, honest and humane."
"The film highlights her spirit, her passion, her eloquence and her rage."
"Eternally relevant, this is a powerful story of one of the activists on whose shoulders we now stand.”