Silence = Death

At the height of the AIDS crisis, Dr. Anthony Fauci is forced to reckon with his power and responsibility while hundreds of protesters storm the campus of the National Institute of Health.

Project type: Fiction Short
Project status: Development
Writer/Director: Trace Pope
Producer: Kate Hanson
Producer: Tola Omilana
Help independent filmmakers tell their stories.
Make a donation to Silence = Death today.

Film Independent’s Fiscal Sponsorship program opens the door to nonprofit funding for independent filmmakers and media artists. Donate today and help bring Silence = Death to life.



At the height of the AIDS crisis, Dr. Anthony Fauci is forced to reckon with his power and responsibility while hundreds of protesters storm the campus of the National Institute of Health.


On May 21, 1990, roughly 1,000 activists and members of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) marched on the Bethesda, Maryland campus of the National Institute of Health to protest the lack of available drugs to treat HIV/AIDS. Dr. Anthony Fauci, then director of the NIAID (the AIDS arm of the NIH), watches as the activists march around his building, demanding inclusion in his clinical research committees. Meanwhile, a young gay filmmaker captures the events of the protest while attempting to deliver a package to Fauci. As the demonstrations threaten to upend the scientists’ work, both men are forced to reckon with the meaning of power and responsibility.

Winner of the 2023 Sloan Foundation Production Grant.

Meet the Filmmakers

Trace Pope – Writer/Director
Trace Pope is a writer/director based in Los Angeles, CA. He received his MFA in Film/TV Production from USC, his MA in Classical Theater from LAMDA, and his BA in English from the University of Texas. During his time at USC, Trace wrote & directed his thesis film, A Fugue, winner of the 2024 USC First Look award for Best Screenwriting. He was also awarded the 2023 Sloan Foundation Production Grant which will fund his upcoming short film (and subject of this fundraising campaign), Silence = Death, about Anthony Fauci and the AIDS crisis. As a filmmaker, Trace is passionate about telling stories through a Queer lens that combine his love of music, art and theater so that his audience might contend with life, death and human connection in a deeper way.

Kate Hanson – Producer
Kate Hanson is a producer based in Los Angeles, CA with a passion for bringing untold stories to light. She began her journey in North Carolina where she studied biochemistry at Wake Forest University. After graduating, Kate spent a year teaching kindergarten and was encouraged by her young students to dream big and pursue her passion for storytelling. Kate strives to inspire connection and conversation through her projects, which often focus on mental health, identity, and our relationships with others and ourselves. Kate recently received her MFA in Film & Television Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts where she focused on producing and first assistant directing. When she’s not producing, Kate enjoys making music and hiking through Yosemite valley.

Tola Omilana – Producer
Tola Omilana is the son of Nigerian immigrants, the eldest of three children, a Black man, a poet turned filmmaker. Hailing from Palm Desert, California, Tola studied biomedical engineering with a minor in nonfiction/ethnographic filmmaking at Harvard College. After a few years of penning short scripts, Tola completed his first feature screenplay in 2021 through a writing fellowship with UCLA and now attends USC for his MFA. At USC, Tola wrote his second feature and oversaw production/post-production sound for a psychological horror film, Price, which is now entering the festival circuit. After a year of supervising several undergraduate thesis productions, he is also producing two short films, For. Mr. Johnson and Silence = Death. Beyond filmmaking, Tola finds inspiration in autobiographical literature, cathartic music, and communities of practice.

Make a donation to Silence = Death


For inquiries, please contact