15 Mar 2019

Killing Patient Zero, From Director Laurie Lynd To Have World Premiere as a Special Presentation at Hot Docs 2019

Fadoo Productions is pleased to announce that Killing Patient Zero, the documentary about the origins of the AIDS epidemic and the story of Gaetan Dugas, the man who was incorrectly accused of starting it all, written and directed by Laurie Lynd, based on Richard McKay’s ground-breaking book, Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic, will have its world premiere as a Special Presentation at Hot Docs 2019.

Killing Patient Zero is produced by Corey Russell (Rush: Time Stands Still, Names on the Cup), and Allan Weinrib (Rush: Time Stands Still, Names on the Cup) of Fadoo Productions, with Christian Medawar (Infiniment Quebec, Les Porteurs d’espoir) and Yves Bisaillon (The Refugees of the Blue Planet, Just Watch me: Trudeau and the 70’s Generation) as Associate Producers and Trevor Birney (Emmy- nominated Elián, No Stone Unturned, Bobby Sands: 66 Days) serving as Executive Producer. World sales will be handled by Kew Media Distribution.

In the 1970s, Quebecois flight attendant Gaetan Dugas was one of the first 57 AIDS cases reported to the Center for Disease Control (the CDC) in Atlanta. Unlike the other men on their radar, Dugas, an openly and unashamedly gay man, was able to provide the names of 72 of his former sex partners – and in so doing, landed in the middle of the CDC’s famous Cluster Study, where, as Patient O (the letter, ‘O’ for ‘Out of California’) he was incorrectly referred to as Patient 0 (zero)- and wrongly accused as being the source of the US outbreak, thanks to San Francisco Chronicle journalist, Randy Shilts’ ground-breaking 1987 book on the AIDS epidemic, And The Band Played On. In Shilts’ work, Dugas comes across as a psychopath, willfully infecting other gay men.

Director Laurie Lynd conducted 40 interviews with friends and colleagues of both Dugas and Shilts (including Michael Denneny, the late journalist’s long-time editor and publisher of Band, about the responsibility of advancing the Patient Zero story), doctors who were on the front lines of the emerging epidemic (who are characters in Band), as well as epidemiological biologist Michael Worobey whose re-examination of an old CDC sample of Dugas’ blood that produced startling and irrefutable results. We have also interviewed men and women who lived through that terrible time, most notably, Fran Lebowitz.

“It has been a privilege to tell the story of Gaetan Dugas. In clearing his name, Killing Patient Zero exposes the virulent homophobia rampant during the worst of the HIV/AIDS crisis. As the author of And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts, said over and over, the AIDS epidemic was allowed to happen because it initially seemed “only” to affect gay men. I hope Killing Patient Zero will help us remember the cost of such prejudice. As a filmmaker I am deeply grateful to my interview subjects, all of whom spoke to me with remarkable candour. This film is a tribute to them and to all those whose lives have been touched by HIV/AIDS,” avowed writer/director Laurie Lynd.

“I've always thought the story of Patient Zero represented so much about truths in popular culture. It is one of the great travesties of the last century. We shame those who challenge our norms and then look for scapegoats when the truth becomes too difficult to manage,” said producer Corey Russell.

Cinematography by Paul Steinberg and editing by Trevor Ambrose (Schitt’s Creek, Saturday Night Live).

Killing Patient Zero is a Fadoo production made with participation from Kew Media Distribution, Ontario Creates, Hollywood Suite and OutTV.



Laurie Lynd is a television and film writer/director based in Toronto. Lynd’s television work includes directing the BBC mini-series I Was A Rat, starring Tom Conti and Academy Award Winner Brenda Fricker; For Love & Honor (Hallmark); Dear Viola (UP TV); Open Heart starring Megan Follows; Virtual Mom starring Debbie Reynolds and Sheila McCarthy, as well as multiple episodes of Hallmark’s Good Witch; Shaftesbury’s Murdoch Mysteries and Baxter; Breakthrough’s The Adventures of Napkin Man; MTV/Logo’s Noah’s Arc; CTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation and Showtime’s Queer As Folk. His second feature Breakfast With Scot starring Tom Cavanagh and Ben Shenkman premiered at TIFF and in the US at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and has won Audience Favourite Awards at dozens of film festivals. Scot won the 2008 DGC award for Best Family Feature. House, Lynd’s first feature, starred Daniel MacIvor. Lynd also directed the musical shorts The Fairy Who Didn’t Want to Be A Fairy Anymore (Genie winner for Best Dramatic Short) and RSVP, which features a vocal performance by Jessye Norman and was named one of nine iconic queer Canadian films by the CFC in 2018.  All three films were selected for both TIFF and SUNDANCE. Lynd also produced John Greyson’s award-wining short, The Making of ‘Monsters’.



Founded in 2012, Fadoo Productions is an award­-winning production company specializing in producing sports and music documentaries and docu­series. Recent credits include the critically acclaimed documentary Rush:Time Stand Still, about legendary rock band Rush. Winner of a 2018 Canadian Screen Award, it was also narrated by Paul Rudd and directed by Dale Heslip (What If), the film tells the story of the band’s final tour. They also produced a companion concert film, R40 Live which debuted at number one on the Billboard DVD chart. Other productions include, Names on the Cup, a feature documentary about the history of the Stanley Cup, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. In 2019, they will release a feature documentary about 80s rock icons, The Go-Go’s, directed by Alison Ellwood (History of the Eagles).



Kew Media Distribution, part of Kew Media Group, produces and acquires more than 1,000 hours of new multi-genre content every year and distributes a diverse catalogue of film, television and digital assets to broadcasters and viewing platforms across the world. Kew Media Distribution manages international rights to a library of over 10,000 hours of TV and digital content, including major drama series, non-fiction entertainment, special event programming, kids’ series, TV movies and mini-series.

Media Contact: Cynthia Amsden 416.910.7740