SEX POSITIVE: Blurbs, Reviews


Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary: OUTFEST L.A.

Best Documentary, Fort Worth Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

“A beautiful and important story.”

Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America


“Superb new documentary.”

David Weigand, San Francisco Chronicle


“In his illuminating, timelessly timely Sex Positive documentary, Daryl Wein calls attention both to unjustly neglected, pioneering AIDS activist Richard Berkowitz and his still widely ignored groundbreaking promotion of safe sex.”

Kevin Thomas–Los Angeles Times


“Passionately verbal, intensely well-informed…Berkowitz’s life and landmark achievement are chronicled in Daryl Wein’s Outfest Award-winning documentary Sex Positive.…In 2003, after two decades of activism, Berkowitz wrote his autobiography, titled Stayin’ Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex. It was this compelling memoir that would inspire Daryl Wein, a young, heterosexual filmmaker Berkowitz met at a Passover Seder in 2006, to make the activist his next documentary subject. “

Gary Goldstein–Los Angeles Times


“The movie jolts you with the realization that the AIDS epidemic and the public debate about such issues have retreated so far under the news radar as to be half-forgotten.”

Stephen Holden, New York Times


“Richard Berkowitz ought to be lionized as an early crusader in the fight against AIDS. Daryl Wein’s engrossing portrait…is freshly engaging largely due to the subject himself…Wein captures his latter-day fighting spirit, intellect and grousing in bemused but admiring terms.”

Dennis Harvey, Variety


“Indispensable…completely fascinating.”

Ella Taylor, NPR


“It helps that Wein’s subject is such a fascinating, garrulous paradox.”

Village Voice


“[Berkowitz] was desperate to introduce the notion of safe sex while decreasing promiscuity, a tactic considered either foreign or insulting to many of the men he was trying to reach. It didn’t help that he was self-righteous and stubborn — but it sure didn’t hurt, either. After all, some of those same people may be alive today, thanks to his inflexible persistence.”

New York Daily News


“Berkowitz is a fascinating, prickly, decidedly unsaintly character, and Wein’s film provides a fascinating and crucial slice of traumatic sexual history that’s all but invisible to younger generations.”

Andrew O’Hehir,


“While capturing a disastrous time in recent history, Sex Positive insists that we reflect anew on the AIDS crisis, revisit its first wave (as opposed to its persistent tide) for new or different lessons. Wein clearly cares for his subject. Yet he leaves room for our admiration and our ambivalence. This is an achievement of heart and of mind.”

Denver Post


“Most of the film rests on Berkowitz to carry and, fortunately, he is more than up to the task. Blunt, profane, mustachioed and charming, one can understand how he rubbed people wrong twenty years ago, but just might be the right sort of person to spread this message today…Sex Positive is the best kind of political documentary, one which slips this message in, as part of a fascinating, previously untold story.”


“The film is moving, powerful, funny, and sad. Berkowitz is unbelievably generous in the film with his time, archives, and honesty. And the result is an important document that anyone interested in the history of sexuality or in the current state of sexual health should see.”

Sex Positive director, Daryl Wein

“Provocative and enlightening…Director Daryl Wein’s compelling film champions the man who as one interviewee says, ‘made safe sex sexy.’ And Berkowitz is an alluring figure — a passionate, self-conscious, frustrated, and often sensible advocate who demands attention. Finally recognized for his achievements, Sex Positive captures Berkowitz warts-and-all, and it is an extremely fascinating and rewarding portrait.”

San Francisco Bay Times


Sex Positive is a well researched, filmed and edited story, which might be an asset to college level classes in gay and lesbian studies and public health, particularly those researching gay health issues form historical and sociological perspectives. The film’s verbal slang and graphic sexual imagery may be disturbing to some, yet is appropriate for the subject matter. Nonetheless, faculty and librarians may wish to preview it first.”

—  Educational Media Reviews Online


“Compelling. Sex Positive takes a no-holds-barred look at Berkowitz’s quest to educate gay men about safer sex, the backlash he faced, and the personal sexual history that made him both an unlikely and perfect messenger.”

— Laura Douglas-Brown, Southern Voice


“Few remembered Berkowitz’s role until Sex Positive, a documentary by Daryl Wein, began screening. The compelling film came to Atlanta last night for a benefit screening for Positive Impact…Berkowitz was in attendance and received a standing ovation after the film. In remarks to the audience, he didn’t mince words about the difficulties of getting out frank information about safe sex, and the way conservatives have ‘watered down’ the message in the last decade to the point that it no longer celebrates sex and no longer has resonance for gay men.”

Washington Blade


“Open[s] a window into a culture unfamiliar to the general audience…[Sex Positive] paints a vivid portrait of persistence in promoting a revolutionary idea against virulent opposition.”

Jewish Journal


“You’ve probably never heard of Richard Berkowitz. But if you’ve ever used a condom — or asked your man to — with the goal of protecting yourself from HIV, you have him to thank. Sex Positive brings to light — through Berkowitz’s eyes as well as through those of some who once stood against him — the daunting quest he took on to save the lives of the men around him and ended up making the concept of ‘safer sex’ almost second nature for today’s generation.”

HIV Plus Magazine

HIV PLUS Magazine, July/August 2009


“Richard Berkowitz, the man at the center of Daryl Wein’s intelligent and engaging Sex Positive, is the ideal documentary subject: with his combination of self-effacement and daunting confidence, Berkowitz easily commands the screen throughout its short running time. Such an appealing figure is especially crucial for a film that focuses on a subject as potentially didactic and strictly educational as the promotion of safe sex…An unabashed and even transgressive portrait of sexuality.”


Sex Positive has the virtue of not only telling an important story but having, in Richard Berkowitz, a fascinating subject truly worthy of scrutiny. Berkowitz is a compelling presence.”

Filmmaker Magazine


“Richard Berkowitz appeared at Columbia University yesterday for a screening of the film. His message from 25 years ago is just as relevant today. Honest and open dialogue about sexual behaviors and risks is one way a community can take action against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, STI’s and unintended pregnancy. He pointed out that…if you look at the education campaigns of other developed countries, along with their STI and teen pregnancy rates, it is clear that the U.S. is doing something wrong.”

Reproductive Health Hub


With the resurgence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the United Kingdom, Sex Positive is a timely documentary about Richard Berkowitz, one of those who pioneered the safe sex message.”

—  British Medical Journal


Sex Positive provides a defiantly non-PC look at guerrilla gay activism and three of its most tragically unsung heroes…a must-see for audiences who like their documentaries to be no-holds-barred peeks at less-than-perfect lives accompanied by brutal candor, dark humor and piercing intellectual acumen .”

Bay Area Reporter


“Wein’s straightforward documentary on a forgotten hero…is fascinating.”


“Frank and fascinating…Sex Positive will be of particular interest to gay men, but its value as a document of social change and evolving attitudes toward sex has broader significance.”



“This film is charged with passion, emotion and dedication to its subject. Meet the man who invented your 21st Century sex life. Sex Positive is a brilliantly electric and intoxicating film, telling a much more dramatic and intriguing story of the AIDS crisis than you may have ever imagined.”

—  Irish Film Institute


“An intriguing candid, central character — Berkowitz makes Sex Positive shine.”

—   Metrosource


“Dear Sex Positive documentary subject Richard Berkowitz: You have our eternal thanks for being one of the earliest voices of reason in the midst of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s…As the rates of HIV infection continue to climb, we hope your story will serve as a cold reminder to a new generation and that you can now live your life in a place of honor, not obscurity.”

The Advocate

Atlanta Screening/Q&A, August 29, 2009

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