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"While there have been recent films on the history of the adult epidemic, the equally important history of the childhood epidemic, largely affecting poor and minority children, had yet to be chronicled until now.  "
     -- Robert Gallo, MD  
       co-discoverer of the AIDS virus

Premieres on PBS June 2022!

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Don Quixote in Newark tells the inspiring story of James Oleske, the New Jersey pediatrician who identified HIV/AIDS in children.  

In the early nineteen eighties, working in the poor community of Newark, Dr. James Oleske made the startling observation that his young patients were showing signs of the new and unknown syndrome recently discovered in gay men and drug users. Yet every established authority in the field told him that it was medically impossible. His mentor thought he was crazy; the press labeled him an alarmist.  Oleske refused to back down.

Struggling to cope with a mounting medical crisis in his New Jersey community, Oleske and his team persisted in painstaking frontline research. They would soon publish the first article on the disease soon to become known as AIDS in children.  

Throughout his life Jim Oleske had pushed the envelope, exhibiting a rebellious streak that often put him at odds with the establishment. Like Don Quixote, the hero of his favorite novel, Oleske often fought for seemingly lost causes in which he believed, often at the risk of his own career.   

Oleske’s entire life has been dedicated to working inside the largely poor and minority community of Newark. Despite the lack of funds he — along with the women of Newark — fought valiantly against the ravages the disease brought to their already hurting community. 

This documentary is the story of a visionary pediatrician who refused to follow the path of least resistance.  Juxtaposing the dramatic events of Oleske’s exploration of pediatric AIDS with scenes from his work today in that same underserved community hospital, this film tells the story of a visionary scientist and healer. 


This story is about finding light at the end of a forbiddingly long and dark tunnel.  It is a story of courage in the face of death and powerful redemption. 

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Joseph Dorman

 Producer, Director 


Joseph Dorman, the founder of Riverside Films, is the winner of television’s George Foster Peabody Award for excellence.  


In 2015 he released the film Colliding Dreams, a history of the Zionist idea and the controversies surrounding it. The Nation wrote that the film is ‘as good a feature-length history of Zionism as we’re likely to get: judicious, sophisticated, attentive to a range of viewpoints..." and the Los Angeles Times called it  “compelling and Engrossing. A film of ideas, a film of history.”Mr. Dorman wrote and directed the critically acclaimed theatrically released documentary, Arguing the World about the controversial sixty-year political journey of the eminent political writers and thinkers, Daniel Bell, Irving Howe, Irving Kristol and Nathan Glazer.  The New York Times described it as “enthralling…  one of the deepest portraits of… of ideas ever filmed,” and The New Yorker raved “Superb.”  It was named one of the best films of 1998 by The New York Times, and New York Magazine.


 His film, the award-winning Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness (2011), was called “compelling” and “wonderfully rich.” It was one of the top grossing documentaries of 2011, playing across the country.  Mr. Dorman co-wrote the script of the documentary blockbuster, The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Journey, which was named the best documentary of 2001 by the National Board of Review and described by film critic Andrew Sarris as “extraordinary.”  He also wrote the theatrically released documentary Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry. He was a senior producer for the prime time PBS newsmagazine series on the news media, Media Matters hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex Jones, has produced numerous films on the developing world for PBS, Discovery and the United Nations and was a producer for the PBS series The Eleventh Hour.


Mr. Dorman also writes for The New York Times Book Review and other publications. His books include Arguing the World: The New York Intellectuals in their Own Words (2001) and When Ideas Mattered, The Nathan Glazer Reader(2016), which he co-edited and for which he wrote the introduction.   

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