Though JONATHAN DEMME's film "Philadelphia" has broken barriers against focusing on AIDS as the theme of a major movie, it is not the director's last word on the subject.
" 'Philadelphia' is the tiniest little chink in the curtain," Mr. Demme said the other day. "We need hundreds, no thousands, of films on AIDS."
He is about to make his second contribution with the premiere Wednesday of a documentary called "One Foot on a Banana Peel, the Other Foot in the Grave."
It depicts a year in a room in the Manhattan office of Dr. PAUL BELLMAN where AIDS patients gathered for daily intravenous treatments and formed a cohesive group.
Mr. Demme's "dear, dear departed friend, JUAN BOTAS," an artist, was one of those patients.
"He used to tell me about the room," Mr. Demme said. "Juan started saying, 'We have amazing conversations there. You wouldn't believe the amount of laughter, the philosophical stuff, the soap opera, the gossip,' and he felt that it was a shame it was not being documented."
Mr. Demme and his wife, JOANNE HOWARD, an artist, agreed and decided to produce a film about the room. They told Mr. Botas to get a video camera and start shooting.
Mr. Botas began making the film in May 1992, and the filming continued for a year.
The premiere will be in the Citicorp screening room at 399 Park Avenue and will benefit a cause to which Mr. Demme has a personal connection: St. Mary's Episcopal Center, a Harlem residence for people with AIDS, started by his cousin, the Rev. ROBERT CASTLE.