Film-maker Edgar Tang scores a Singapore first

Edgar Tang on the streets of Berlin
Edgar Tang on his quest.
His documentary I Hugged The Berlin Patient will be shown to 63 million households worldwide
Published: 4:02 AM, November 21, 2014
Updated: 7:50 AM, November 21, 2014

SINGAPORE — On World Aids Day (Dec 1), Singaporean filmmaker Edgar Tang’s acclaimed local documentary, I Hugged The Berlin Patient, will be broadcast to 63 million households — that’s the approximate total subscribed households on MTV Latin America and MTV US Hispanic (Tr3s). This is a first for a Singapore documentary.

But those in Singapore can watch it before the rest of the world, thanks to the charity screening that will be held tomorrow at the Arts House, with proceeds going towards the research on cures for HIV.

I Hugged The Berlin Patient is Tang’s first documentary feature and chronicles the erstwhile television producer and cinematographer’s spontaneous quest, together with co-director Dzul Sungit, to find Timothy Ray Brown, aka The Berlin Patient, an American who became the first in the world to be cured of HIV.

This made-for-charity film helped raise more than S$20,000 for Action For Aids Singapore. Tang intends to use the film’s global theme of hope to create awareness and support for HIV and cancer-cure research. Its MTV broadcast (a shorter 45-minute TV edit) is in partnership with the HIV-cure programme at the renowned Fred Hutchinson Research Centre in the United States. The centre has been at the forefront of disease research since it was founded in 1975. It is conducting some of the world’s most advanced research on potential new HIV cures inspired in part by Brown, which includes gene therapy and stem-cell transplantation.

“Separately, we discovered that HIV-cure research is less funded than HIV prevention or treatment,” said Tang. “In fact, of the US$1.38 billion (S$1.79 billion) designated for HIV research in the US this year, only three per cent was for cure.

“We are honoured that this local film can pass on its message of hope to millions and, in the process, bring much-needed support to HIV and cancer-cure research,” he added.

Tang, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June 2007, has come a long way. In an earlier interview, Tang told TODAY why he made a film about an HIV survivor, instead of, say, his battle with cancer, among other things.

“You never know when life throws you a curveball,” he said. “Let’s celebrate resilience and hope and anti-discrimination.”


Tickets to the Singapore screening on Nov 22 can be purchased at Net proceeds will go towards the HIV-cure programme at the Fred Hutchinson Research Centre. Those who would like to show more support can contribute directly to the same portal.