“Pedro”–remembering Pedro Zamora


“Remembering Pedro Zamora

Amos Lassen

Pedro Zamora who we got to know and love 15 years ago during the third season of MTV’s The Real World died and we cried. We cry again watching the MTV film “Pedro” released by Wolfe Video.

Pedro was an HIV-positive Cuban-American whose tine in the Real World house on Lombard Street brought a face to the AIDS crisis. Then-President Bill Clinton, who has taped a special introduction to this film, credited Zamora with personalizing and humanizing those with the disease. We learned that Pedro learned he was HIV-positive while a junior in high school. When he was just 17 and decided to spend the rest of his life educating people about the disease that claimed his life just five years later.

He died the night the final episode of the season aired; however, I doubt it is well-known how much he suffered in his final months. As we watched Pedro an amazingly articulate young man give HIV-prevention talks in schools, off-screen he could no longer speak. He suffered from PML, a rare and usually fatal viral inflammation of the brain contracted by only about 1 percent of AIDS patients. What is so interesting is that the film boldly shows his physical deterioration and the tensions between his family and his partner.
Watching this film was like reliving 1994. We were younger then and times were different. Pedro became our friend and his pain was our pain, his joy was out joy. “The Real World” was the first of the reality shows and it made headlines by having gay characters. “Pedro” reminds us how ahead of the times the series was.

This is an excellent film directed by Nick Oceano and it a top-notch cast. Alex Loynaz as Pedro is amazing and while he doesn’t especially look like Zamora facially and doesn’t try to imitate his speech, he does capture the essence of Pedro wonderfully. He is complimented in the many scenes with the Justina Machado who plays his sister, Milly. You She is heartbreaking in the way she shows her love for her brother. The rest of the cast is excellent.

Dustin Lance Black, who won the Academy Award for Milk, is credited with writing Pedro and shares the story credit with Paris Barclay.
Pedro is set to premiere on MTV and Logo on April 1 with a DVD release that will also contain three Real World episodes from the San Francisco season, to follow. This is a film that young people who watch will get a much-needed wake-up call about HIV and AIDS. Infections are on the upswing and it is obviously because of the treatments now available that no longer make it a death sentence. But what I remember most about the period of Pedro’s life was the horror of young people like Pedro, just starting out in life with so much to give, and then die horrible deaths. “Pedro” is a wonderful film with a great deal to say.

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