Written by Milk’s screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, before he won the Oscar, Pedro is a moving biopic of the reality TV star and activist Pedro Zamora.
The HIV positive Zamora was featured in MTV’s 1994 The Real World: San Francisco, a kind of early Big Brother, in the US. He was also the first openly gay participant to be selected to appear in the show.
The attractive 21 year old quickly became a popular figure despite the show airing in the midst of widespread ignorance and bigotry towards those living with the virus.
The film, which also includes his romantic relationship with fellow activist Sean, is more limited in scope than Milk and occasionally suffers from a smaller budget and a few stilted moments.
Alex Loymaz, who plays Pedro, is appropriately easy on the eye, but he lacks some of the gravitas required to be at the forefront of the film. This isn’t helped by a constant shift in character perspective which initially hampers our connection with Pedro.
Also, much like Harvey Milk in Black’s previous film, Zamora, is presented as a being a little too perfect and self-assured. This, along with occasionally clunky mock-interview segments, thankfully don’t permanently damage the film.
Loymaz ultimately manages to bring sufficient likability to the role in time for the film’s powerful climax.
It’s Justina Machado’s (Six Feet Under) performance as Pedro’s sister Mily, however, who packs a real emotional punch. Her conflict between her conservative Cuban background and her deep love for her brother add a great deal of heart to the film.
Despite its weaknesses, Pedro remains a sincere and moving film, without resorting to cheap emotionally manipulative tricks. In fact, the final act of Pedro is genuinely heartbreaking.
It’s a pertinent and humanising testament to the bravery of those who struggled to educate the world about the HI Virus, many of whom ultimately lost their lives.
Pedro is screened as Part of Cinema Nouveau’s Pride Month until 8 October at cinemas nationwide and is followed by College Boys Live on October 9 and Little Ashes from October 23.