Skip navigation

World AIDS Day Film Screening and Discussion

Northumbria University


To mark World AIDS Day on 1 December, Northumbria’s LGBTQ* Network present a FREE screening of Stuart Marshall’s 1984 film Bright Eyes, followed by a discussion with activists and researchers on HIV/AIDS then and now.

‘Bright Eyes’ explores the AIDS crisis through its homophobic portrayal in the British tabloid press in the early 1980s. The documentary, using dramatic reconstructions and interviews, considers the history of homosexuality dating from the nineteenth century. The film draws parallels with the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the representation of AIDS as ‘The Gay Plague’ in the 80s. ‘Bright Eyes’ is a pertinent and timely reminder of the power of the medical and legal establishments in defining and persecuting minorities. The film challenged representations of homosexuality and the AIDS crisis in popular culture; and resonates with discussions on HIV/AIDS now.

The discussion brings together Philip Dixon from Thrive and Professor Chris Ashford, Dr Abigail Durrant and Kiersten Hay from Northumbria University to reflect on Marshall’s work and discuss advocacy and research on HIV/AIDS now.


Stuart Marshall (1949—1993) taught at the former Newcastle Polytechnic, now Northumbria University, in the 1980s. Marshall was a founding member of London Video Arts in 1976, and was a committed advocate of British video art, as a practitioner, curator and theorist. His work explored the relationship between video, television and the media. Later works took on a more political tone, addressing homosexuality and the AIDS crisis. In 1988 he made Pedagogue with colleague Neil Bartlett and students at Newcastle Polytechnic, which parodied Section 28. Marshall died in 1993, at the age of 44, from AIDS-related causes.

Chris Ashford is Professor of Law and Society at Northumbria University. A queer theorist with research focused upon challenging normative assumptions about sexuality, particularly in relation to public sex, barebacking, pornography, and relationship structures.  He has advised LGBT community and health groups, the NHS, Police and UK Parliament. Chris’ latest work with Alex Powell (City University) and Max Morris (Durham University), forthcoming in the Journal of Criminal Law, argues that there is a need to re-appraise the legal framework relating to HIV/AIDS in the context of a new medicalised landscape featuring PrEP, PEP, and TasP.

Philip Dixon is a member of Thrive - a north east advocacy and support group for individuals living with HIV. He was diagnosed with HIV in September 2012 and has been on medication since that time, making him undetectable for nearly 6 years. He works full time and also spends a lot of his time singing, conducting and performing in choirs. Philip is open publicly about his status and has spoken about living with HIV on both Spark FM and BBC Radio Newcastle.

Dr Abigail Durrant is Associate Professor in the School of Design at Northumbria University. A designer by background, she predominantly works in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Her research is grounded in participatory, design-led methodologies and critically explores how digital interactions support expressions of selfhood and social enablement, related to wellbeing and applied ethics. Abigail is Principal Investigator of EPSRC 'INTUIT: Interaction Design for Trusted Sharing of Personal Health Data to Live Well with HIV’, an interdisciplinary project that aims to understand the issues of trust, identity and privacy that are experienced by people living with HIV when sharing self-generated data with clinicians, peers, and others, for the self-management of their condition.

Kiersten Hay is a PhD candidate within the Design School at Northumbria University, investigating how women living with HIV in the UK use technology. As an interdisciplinary designer her previous design experience includes both digital and print magazines, digital privacy, ethical design, digital marketing, and new media. Kiersten is currently interning at the National AIDS Trust (NAT), developing an online tool for people living with HIV across the UK. 


This event has been organised by Northumbria’s PGR and staff LGBTQ* Network and is co-hosted with the student LGBT* Society. Donations on the evening will go to Thrive, a north east advocacy and support network for individuals living with HIV.


Refreshments from 5:30pm with screening beginning at 6pm, followed by discussion. SQ020A is on the ground floor of the Squires Building and is wheelchair accessible via the new entrance to Student Central off Sandyford Road.


Image credit: Stuart Marshall, ‘Bright Eyes,’ 1984. Video still. Courtesy LUX, London.

Event Details

Northumbria University
Squires Building 020A
City Campus
Newcastle upon Tyne


Back to top