Films & Schedules

  • Pedro

  • Nick Oceano

English, Spanish
93 minutes

Production Company:
BMP Films
Executive Producer:
Jon Murray, Gil Goldschein, Scott Freeman, Paris Barclay
Anne Clements, Chris Panizzon, Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Dustin Lance Black
Production Designer:
Denise Hudson
Mark Putnam
Jonathan Alberts
Carlos Rivera, Jose Perez
Barbara Cohen
Principal Cast: Alex Loynaz, Justina Machado, DaJuan Johnson, Hale Appleman, Jenn Liu

Sunday September 0703:15PM AMC 2 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Tuesday September 0908:45PM AMC 10 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1312:00PM AMC 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

It was not so long ago that reality television did not exist. But with the launch of The Real World on MTV in 1992, television and the nature of celebrity were forever changed.

Putting Andy Warhol's famous pronouncement to shame, The Real World proved that it was possible for just about anyone to garner more than fifteen minutes of fame. At first, it was the premise of the show, not the participants, that grabbed the public's attention – but then Pedro Zamora came along.

Zamora was born in Cuba and came to the United States as part of the Mariel boatlift in 1980. The youngest child in a close family, Zamora's life changed when his mother died when he was thirteen. Already a top student, he immersed himself in his studies. Then he began engaging in unprotected sex. When he was sixteen, he donated blood to the Red Cross and discovered that he was HIV-positive. Suddenly, Zamora's hopeful future took another sharp turn.

After absorbing the initial shock, Zamora made the life-altering decision to become an activist and educator. He moved to San Francisco and heard about auditions for The Real World, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS. Producers invited him to participate because of his eagerness and openness, qualities that would endear him to some housemates and antagonize others. The exposure brought Pedro worldwide recognition. For millions of people, he was the only person they knew living with HIV.

This small, intimate biopic dramatizes the life of Pedro Zamora before and after his rise to fame on The Real World. It examines his familial roots in Cuba and, later, his committed relationship with another activist. Zamora had a close bond with his sister, Mily, and Justina Machado plays her with a ferocity that provides a perfect counterpoint to Alex Loynaz's more earnest performance as Pedro.

Zamora understood that he could reach more people in one episode of a television programme than he could in a year of speaking engagements. Pedro offers an intriguing look at this accidental celebrity and his brief but world-changing turn in the spotlight.

Jane Schoettle

Nick Oceano was born in San Antonio, Texas, and is currently studying at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Pedro (08) is his debut feature film.

Cadillac People's Choice Award