Footnote: A True Story
“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. ”
— Irving Penn
David Serko dies tragically of AIDS in 1992 at the height of the epidemic. A chance discovery of an online photograph of David being arrested leads his older brother Peter on a remarkable journey. Peter, at age 59 with no theatrical experience whatsoever writes and performs a play based on what he learned. Then, with no film-making experience, creates a documentary film about it.
In 1992 the AIDS epidemic is raging uncontrolled in the US with almost 200,000 deaths to date. David Serko, age 32, is among those who tragically died that year. Peter, his older brother, is at David’s bedside the moment he takes his last breath. In their final conversation David makes one request of Peter: ‘listen to your heart’. Devastated by David’s death yet inspired by his final request, Peter vows to one day tell his brother’s story.
Twenty years pass before Peter is able to make good on that promise. In 2012 he starts The David Serko Project with the goal of learning more about his brother’s life by finding people who knew David. Using Facebook Peter finds over 100 people who knew David, most he didn’t know.
Early in the Project a footnote link in a Wikipedia article leads to a previously unknown photograph of David being arrested at protest in 1988. The discovery is a transformative event in the life of the Project. Peter eventually finds the photographer who took the photo, they meet face-to-face in late 2012.
Peter decides the only way to properly tell David’s story is to do it in the theater, onstage as a play. With no theatrical background or experience Peter writes a solo performance play and begins performing it. Peter takes the play back to his home town to a theater where David performed early in his career. Among those in the audience is the photographer who took the arrest photo in 1988, camera in hand.
‘Footnote’ traces the remarkable 26 year history of a photograph reminding us of the capacity four simple words: ‘listen to your heart’ have to heal, inspire and transform.
Release date: February 2017
Director: Peter Serko
Editor: Peter Serko
Writer: Peter Serko
Producer: Dancing Man Productions