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SXSW 2012: Director Nelson George talks Magic Johnson and “The Announcement”


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It’s been more than two decades since Magic Johnson made his shocking announcement that he was HIV positive, but the impact of that event still can be felt today. Director Nelson George decided to channel that continued relevance by teaming up with ESPN and NBA Entertainment to create a documentary that takes a look back at Johnson’s life-changing announcement.

Appropriately titled “The Announcement,” George’s film was shown at SXSW earlier this week. IFC was lucky enough to get a chance to catch up with the director and talk about why he decided that this was the right time to get Johnson to tell his story.

“For years many people had been coming at Magic to tell the backstage story of those events in November 1991. He was reluctant to go back,” George explained. ESPN really went after him this year because the 20th anniversary was last November. Around Labor Day, he agreed to do it.”

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The film not only chronicles the actual announcement, but also shows the fallout after Johnson revealed he had AIDs. George recounts that people were quick to shut themselves off to Johnson, even going as far as calling his manager and telling him that Johnson was never to come to their restaurant again.

When Johnson revealed he had AIDs in 1991, it was considered a death sentence. But by being such a public face of the disease and also continuing to be healthy, some believe that Johnson has taken the fear out of HIV.

“He says he’s been the gift and the curse,” George said. “I think one reason he wanted to do the film now was to reawake the conversation about the virus. The truth is it’s not part of the national political dialogue on election year, it’s not on the front page of newspapers. Fifty to sixty thousand Americans every year are affected, and this has been pretty consistent for the past 10 years. We need to be out here educating young people, and I think the film for Magic and myself is a form of advocacy, about awareness for HIV.”

Do you plan on catching this film? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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