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AIDS in Africa
HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa
Effects of poverty in Africa
Effects of structural adjustment in Africa
70% of the world's HIV infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Swaziland, for example, has the highest HIV infection rate in the world. As many as 1 in every 2 young people has the virus. Why has this happened? The reasons are complex and may challenge western assumptions.
CULTURE TO BLAME? Many commentators have put the blame on low condom-use, some even say that Africans are more sexually promiscuous by nature than people in the developed world. Others point to a culture of denial regarding AIDS. Therefore the main solutions put forward have been awareness campaigns geared towards encouraging behaviour change. But is this the point?
OR IS IT STRUCTURAL? Other experts argue that the causes come down to poverty. They point to labour migration in men and pressures for transactional sex in women, brought about by economic policies forced on Swaziland by international finance, with the cooperation of local elites, including the Swazi King, the last absolute monarch in Africa.
DVD / 2014 / 28 minutes
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Narrated by Della Reese
AIDS is the leading killer of people under 60 in the world today, most in sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike any other film on AIDS, Miss HIV explores the battle over international HIV/AIDS policy and its impact.
The film also highlights how some in Africa are fighting to overcome the paralyzing stigma associated with AIDS -- one of the primary obstacles in the fight against the disease. The documentary gives voice to women in Botswana participating in the Miss HIV Stigma-Free pageant, and college students in Uganda fighting the stigma associated with their choice to remain abstinent.
Filmed across Africa and at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Miss HIV brings into focus the struggle between the conflicting approaches to AIDS education and prevention. The film presents experts advocating on both sides of the AIDS policy struggle -- those supporting broader distribution of condoms and retroviral drugs, and those who believe abstinence and faithfulness should be the first line of defense, especially in Africa. The film devotes considerable time to exploring Uganda's apparent success with the "ABC" strategy for prevention (Abstinence, Be faithful, and Condoms as a last resort).
Among those featured in the film are Bill and Melinda Gates, Harvard Anthropologist Dr. Edward Green, UCSF Professor Dr. Norman Hearst, and Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, among many others, including those infected with HIV/AIDS who speak eloquently for themselves.
Miss HIV is a useful starting point for further exploration of the impact of the AIDS epidemic in Africa and the competing strategies.
DVD / 2010 / (Grades 10-Adult) / 76 minutes
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By Janet S. Parrott
In the midst of a health tsunami and widespread poverty, "South African hospice professionals have found ways to respond effectively to the whole person with life-threatening illnesses," says Catherine Chapin Kobacker, Executive Producer of Song of the Soul. With Kobacker and five other American women, filmmaker Janet S. Parrott had access to hospice facilities, day care programs, support groups, and a school as well as accompanying nurses on home visits with patients and family members. They visited urban and rural hospice activities in four South African cities and towns in order to share this model of community-based compassionate care.
Their stories are compelling and hopeful. In their own words, we hear the heartbreak of a grandmother whose children have died and left her to raise her grandchildren. We feel the pride of people now living active lives with HIV. We see promise in the faces of orphans and the words of a teacher who is passionately committed to their better futures. We share the frustration over the lack of good nutrition and the impact of prevalent poverty. We meet a young man whose food allotments intended only for him to support his medication are shared with eleven other people living in his household. In the face of all of this, we see the power of love in the gentle touch of a caregiver, in the encouraging words of a nursing sister. We see great joy in the faces of children. We see life in the end-of-life. We see hope.
DVD / 2010 / 40 minutes
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By Michealene Cristini Risley
Tapestries of Hope is a powerful film that exposes the ongoing rape of young women in Zimbabwe by men infected with AIDS, and profiles an organization working to protect and empower abused young girls in the country.
It is a common myth promoted by traditional healers in Zimbabwe that a man infected with HIV/AIDS can cure himself by having sex with a virgin. Some victims are very young - even baby girls. Director Michealene Cristini Risley traveled to Zimbabwe to explore the rape and AIDS crisis in the country, to uncover its impact on young girls, and to highlight the work of The Girl Child Network (GCN).
Founded by Zimbabwean human rights activist and child abuse survivor Betty Makoni, GCN rescues and helps heal abused girls. Part of the healing process is speaking out about the crimes committed against them, not an easy task in a country that ostracizes these young female victims. The documentary interweaves the girls' heart-breaking stories with the true confession of a dying man who raped young women believing it would cure his AIDS.
During filming, Risley and her assistant were arrested and deported by Zimbabwean authorities. Their footage was seized by the Zimbabwean Intelligence Office (C.I.O), though the team managed to later retrieve the footage.
Tapestries of Hope is a portrait of hope and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds, and a vibrant call to action to stop the rape and abuse of women in Zimbabwe, and wherever it may occur around the globe.
"The footage Risley captured - particularly interviews with rape survivors and admitted rapists alike - is an incredibly compelling 77 minutes. The most striking element of the documentary is not the hell that the young rape survivors profiled have lived through, but their unbreakable spirit. The film is a vibrant international call to action and a breathtaking portrait of hope in the face of overwhelming odds. " - Jessica Mosby, TheWIP.net
Best Documentary, Women in Film & Television
Best Director, Women in Film & Television
Aloha Accolade Award, Honolulu Int'l Film Festival
Award of Merit, Accolade Film Awards
Best Documentary, Louisville Int'l Festival of Film
Award of Excellence, The Indie Fest
DVD / 2010 / (Grades 11-Adult) / 77 minutes
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By Jane Gillooly
Amidst the highest prevalence of HIV in the world and the lowest life expectancy, three grandmothers in Swaziland, a small, landlocked country in southern Africa between South Africa and Mozambique, cope in this critical moment in time. The generation between the grandmothers and their grandchildren has been severely effected by HIV. Today the Hawk Takes One Chick moves delicately between the lives of the grandmothers, whose experiences highlight a rural community at the threshold of simultaneous collapse and reinvention.
Through the poignant perspective of these women, the film creates a portrait of a community by layering discrete moments in time. Presented without overt narrative structure or narration, the film's drama emerges from the patient accumulation of steady details that, in sum, tell a greater story of family in a world dictated by AIDS.
The events in the film occur in a rural area within a 15-mile radius. In Swaziland, nearly 40% of people are HIV positive and life expectancy has dropped to 32-years. The lives of the three grandmothers have been consumed by addressing the needs of their community while at the same time retaining the threads of the fraying traditional life.
Through verite footage and recordings of intimate conversations, the gentle beauty of the rural Swaziland landscape and way of life are in stark contrast with the urgency of the grandmothers' everyday lives: families living off World Food Program rations, a missing generation of productive young adults, children surviving without parents. These crises all combine and overwhelm what should be the grandmothers' time to retire, relax and be taken care of by adult children. What is life when sickness and death are an everyday experience? For these grandmothers, there is no choice but to steadfastly persevere and refuse to abandon their children. As more and more insight into the women's lives is revealed, we are forced to ponder the question asked by granny Albertina: "What will happen when all the grannies are dead?"
"beautiful and wonderfully crafted, its importance pours out" - Ryan Haidarian, Head of Development & Production, National Film and Video Foundation - South Africa
"This is a poignant and beautifully perceptive portrait of three extraordinarily dynamic grandmothers (gogos), resolutely holding their families together in the wake of the Swaziland Aids crisis. Director Jane Gillooly's respect for her film's subjects, her sensitive camera and seamless editing create a delicate balance between the culturally specific aspects of the gogos' lives and the universality of their tragedies." - Ilisa Barbash, Associate Curator, Visual Anthropology, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Nominee, Fledgling Fund Socially Conscious Documentary Award IFP 2007
DVD (Color) / 2008 / 72 minutes
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By Gustavo Vizoso
Gustavo Vizoso's documentary speaks out about a drama and an injustice; AIDS and its consequences. It is the story of four siblings orphaned by the disease and left to fend for themselves. The film records the everyday lives of Alberina, Maria, Amos and Orsolina Mseyas, who live in Ilula, Tanzania. We see them working, going to school, and with friends. Filmed over four weeks in September, 2006, the project took over a year in total to complete.
Vizoso was motivated to film the life of an orphaned family by the need to do something. With AIDS devastating Africa, 2 million people die on the continent every year, and 11 million children have already been left orphaned. AIDS is the major catastrophe of the 21st century, and it must not go unnoticed. Some children orphaned by AIDS have the opportunity to live with relatives, but many others, like the Mseyas, are obliged to live alone. They constantly struggle to keep going forward, and as Alberina says: "People were commenting very much, but nobody helped us."
The director makes use of interviews, cinematic structure, and thoughtful images that will move the audience and spark strong reactions. Conveying the atmosphere of Tanzania in its color and light, The Mseyas is a movie filmed from the heart.
Extremadura Documentary Film Festival, Portugal, 2007
DVD (Color) / 2007 / 52 minutes
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Ukraine's emerging HIV epidemic is contrasted with Africa's longstanding HIV/AIDS catastrophe.
Worldwide, 42 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS. 90 percent of them live in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But while world attention has been focused on Africa's longstanding HIV/AIDS catastrophe, new crisis regions are emerging. Ukraine has one of the fastest growing infection rates in the world-an epidemic waiting to happen, unless urgent action is taken. Life visits the former Soviet Republic and Zambia, to find out if Eastern European countries like Ukraine can learn from Africa's experience in fighting AIDS-before it's too late.
"If you thought the global AIDS epidemic was under control, you'd better think again. This chilling documentary demonstrates that the spread of HIV/AIDS is worse than ever, and if medical relief efforts fail to adapt, then an already horrible situation is going to get much, much worse." - Prof. Timothy McGettigan, PhD, Dept of Sociology, Colorado State Univ- Pueblo
DVD (Color) / 2004 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 26 minutes
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Workers at the Mother of Mercy hospice in Zambia provide palliative care for those afflicted with AIDS.
The Mother of Mercy Hospice on the edge of the capital, Lusaka, was the first of its kind in Zambia. "Our idea was just to build a simple shelter so people can die with dignity," says Sister Leonia. 200 people a day in Zambia die from HIV/AIDS. Because controlling HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest challenges world health experts face, all the member countries of the United Nations have pledged to "reverse" the spread of the disease as one of the UN's Millennium Development Goals-a global ambition the international community hopes to achieve by 2015. This Life film follows the work of the staff and volunteers at the Mother of Mercy hospice and in the surrounding villages. The courage of patients, the resilience and despair of the staff and the dignity of how they all deal with the almost daily ritual of death combine to give a poignant account of the human face of AIDS in modern Africa.
DVD (Color) / 2004 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 23 minutes
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A deeply moving film about Africa's AIDS orphans left to fend for themselves.
Theirs is no normal childhood. They are the millions of children whose parents have died of AIDS. They have no time to grieve. They are the parents.
Filmed over a 7-month period, Their Brothers' Keepers goes inside Chazanga Compound, a shantytown in Lusaka, Zambia and follows the day-to-day struggles of two child-headed families. We see how Benny, Dorris and Paul cope with a lack of food, water, health care, and schooling. They scramble for piecework to buy mealie-meal for their younger siblings. Local aid and community workers give support but lack the necessary resources. Foreign aid is too thin to trickle down.
The film alternates between the broader view and the personal detail, between tragedy and hope. Stunning photography and an exquisite musical score contrast with the surreal lives of these heroic kids.
Throughout the film, excerpts from speeches by Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, is their passionate advocate. "This pandemic has done something dreadful to our instinct for compassion. What is wrong with the world? One might also ask, what will happen if a generation of Africans grows up without parents, social structures or the basic necessities of life?"
Their Brothers' Keepers is about children determined to survive. They are the future of Zambia, and Africa. How much longer can we stand by?
"Their Brothers' Keepers powerfully conveys the sense of hope grounded in the human spirit to survive. It is highly recommended for college and public library collections." - Calvin O. Masilela, Associate Professor and Director, Department of Geography and Regional Planning, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
"Their Brothers' Keepers, accurately captures and succinctly portrays the challenges orphaned adolescents encounter, especially regarding psychosocial and medical issues, as well as, assuming economic and household responsibilities. Most importantly, the video also demonstrates the barriers health professionals and service organizations encounter when navigating locally available resources to seek social support and medical care for orphaned adolescents... This video is also unique in that it incorporates the decisions of orphaned adolescents, their families, peer groups, communities, donor organizations, and medical providers in formulating a comprehensively-focused social and medical support system for orphaned adolescents... Their Brothers' Keepers, is a very important educational and/or training resource for high risk seeking adolescents, social workers, donor organizations, health professionals and researchers working with and/or caring for orphaned adolescents in developing countries." - Stephen B. Kennedy, MD, MPH, Research Scientist, Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation (PIRE)
"This film breaks new ground by offering multiple perspectives on the AIDS pandemic in Africa: the general overview of the situation is articulated by Mr. Stephen Lewis who speaks passionately of the problems confronted by 'Africans,' African women in particular, when faced with the spectre of the disease... For those who fear that the nations of the African continent will be inhabited in the future by generations of people who grew up without parents, and thus without adequate knowledge of their culture, this film is both reassuring and disturbing... the lives of the children in those nations like Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa where infection rates are the highest, deserve the attention and resources of those more fortunate. This informative and moving film will help to focus that attention where it is needed most." - Dr. Barbara G. Hoffman, Department of Anthropology, Cleveland State University
"Their Brothers' Keepers is an intimate account of children orphaned by AIDS and the efforts of two teenagers striving to keep their sibling groups intact in the face of persistent poverty and donor neglect... A human being with a beating heart cannot help but be moved at the story of two orphan groups, two among millions. As Stephen Lewis asks-when will rich countries respond?" - Professor Brook K. Baker, Health Global Access Project Northeastern University School of Law Boston, MA, USA
"[Their Brothers' Keepers] does a masterful job of touching into both the raw realities of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the hopeful initiatives individuals, organizations, and the Zambian government have taken to reduce human suffering. Portraits of 'sibling families' document the human and societal toll of the disease in a way that is at once respectful and intimate. A brilliant, sensitive, deeply moving film.
My 10-and 12-year olds were hesitant to watch a 'film on AIDS.' But the family portraits drew them in and accomplished the awesome feat of helping them to understand and relate to both a people and place that were unfamiliar to them. As a result, my kids really 'got it,'... It's a masterfully-done film, and deserves the widest possible audience." - Susan L. Erikson, Ph.D., Director, Global Health Affairs, Graduate School of International Studies University of Denver
Best Social/Political Documentary and Best Photography, Yorkton Film & Video Festival
DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2004 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 55 minutes
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United Nations' HIV/AIDS envoy, Stephen Lewis, makes an impassioned plea for world public opinion to focus on the AIDS crisis in Africa.
30 million Africans have HIV/AIDS. In the summer of 2003, two years after the release of his award-winning AIDS documentary RACE AGAINST TIME, United Nations' HIV/AIDS envoy Stephen Lewis returns to Africa and documents his incredible personal journey that has led from hope to despair to hope again.
After September 11, when the world's attention turned to homeland security and fighting terrorism, the promises of financial aid to Africa lay broken. Africa, with more than 6,000 people dying every day and 11 million orphans under the age of 15, was a continent enveloped by death. Lewis was convinced that all that was needed was determination and financial resources. The most urgent need was for life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs for the dying. In Africa these drugs are available to only 75,000 of the four million people who need them.
In 2003 the momentum is finally reignited. Endless disputes concerning generics and the patents held by big pharmaceutical companies have been settled. The World Health Organization has pledged to have three million people on anti- AIDS drugs by 2005. That will amount to a staggering six million pills every day. It is the sheer volume of drugs needed that has led Lewis, along with a handful of Canadian aid agencies, to challenge the Canadian government to pass legislation allowing patents to be circumvented in favor of inexpensive, generic AIDS drugs. If the bill were to pass, it would make history.
"Stephen Lewis demands that we look at the human devastation caused by AIDS in Africa. He puts the blame for the world's failure directly on the wealthy western nations, where it properly belongs!" - Salih Booker, Executive Director, Africa Action
"[The Value of Life] is a powerful introduction to the African AIDS pandemic seen through the eyes of the United Nation's Special HIV/AIDS envoy Stephen Lewis. Years of neglect-of medical apartheid-have muted the voices of people living with and communities affected by HIV/AIDS, but Lewis' voice resonates with a sense of urgency-altering between rage at the slow pace of scale-up and hope as barriers to treatment are gradually reduced. One of the strengths of the film is Lewis' effort to reconnect with PWAs he has met before and his empathy with children. But viewers should look beyond the foreground of Lewis and his personal crusade to the stark images of ruined, yet heroically struggling communities. If viewers connect with these images of our brother and sisters, our sons and daughters, then they should join Lewis and demonstrate their solidarity by speaking truth to power and by demanding global access to the treatment, prevention, and care methodologies wrongfully withheld from those mostin need." - Professor Brook K. Baker, Health Global Access Project, Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA, USA
"[The Value of Life] is an outstanding and valuable educational resource for use both in and outside the classroom." - Calvin O. Masilela, Ph.D., Dept. of Geography and Regional Planning, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
"An important addition to any course dealing with global health and development issues. I would definitely use it regularly for my Geography of Africa course, as well as almost any Environmental Studies course." - Peter Walker, Associate Professor, Dept. of Geography, University of Oregon
"3 starsThe Value of Life benefits from Lewis' personal perspective, and serves as another wakeup call to this global catastrophe. Recommended." - Video Librarian
"Particularly noteworthy are the statistics provided for each country visited... The footage captures the stark reality of the pandemic yet manages to portray the spirit of the African people as well. This quality production is recommended for public and academic libraries." - Library Journal
UN Department of Public Information Silver Award, The New York Festivals
The Chris Statuette, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Freddie Award, International Health & Medical Media Awards
CBC Wilderness Award (Best CBC- Produced Documentary of the Year)
Best of Festival Award, Western Psychological Association Film Festival
DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2004 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 54 minutes
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By Doug Karr & Sierra Bellows
Malawi is a small country in South East Africa that has reached a turning point - it will either sink into unknown depths of despair and poverty or it must grow and change with AIDS as a catalyst. Lifecycles: A Story of AIDS in Malawi explores the themes of sex, witchcraft, poverty, death and religion in relation to AIDS.
With a soulful soundtrack from Bobby McFerrin, the film was shot over eight months and encompasses both the depth and breadth of a culture under siege. Lifecycles captures the intimate stories of people living with AIDS, traditional healers who claim to cure it, and prostitutes who put themselves at risk each night.
Educated and powerful politicians speak frankly about losing 29 members of parliament to AIDS, and one of only thirty-seven HIV positive Malawians then receiving ARV treatment shares his feelings of unmerited privilege.
Lifecycles is both earnest and uplifted as it uses the words of Malawians to reveal a nation for whom illness is mistaken for a witch's spell and physical love is dangerous.
"An intelligent and clear-eyed look at the plague that is devestating sub-Saharan Africa." - Steven Wise, Take One
"It was very moving... an excellent documentary." - Barry Berak, New York Times Magazine
DVD (Color) / 2003 / 57 minutes
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By Randy Bell, Pacho Velez
This powerful documentary examines the lives of former street children now living at the Good Samaritan Children's Home, an orphanage and school in the sprawling Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya.
These children, many orphaned by HIV/AIDS, slipped through the fraying net of Kenyan family structures and social services and ended up on the streets of Nairobi. They sniffed glue, scoured trash bins for food, and slept under cars until they were brought to the Home.
The film depicts the lives of several of these children as they go to school, struggle with the poverty, disease, and violence that surround them, and reflect on their present and former lives.
"Orphans of Mathare" demonstrates that the grim reality of Mathare is not only medical in nature, but social and cultural as well. The HIV/AIDS epidemic threatens to create a generation of children without parents or homes, growing up to be drug addicts and thugs, alienated from their traditional family structure, their culture, and their history.
The film is not simply about a medical epidemic; it is about an entire culture in crisis. Although it focuses on one orphanage in Mathare, the film lays bare the complicated relationship between poverty, violence, disease, Christianity, tradition, and the orphan crisis in Kenya and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
"Brings to life the stark reality and the deep humanity of the HIV story in Africa. This is a film everyone who cares about children and young people should see." - Judith Palfrey, T. Berry Brazelton Prof., Harvard Medical School
New England Film and Video Festival Award
DVD (Color) / 2003 / 60 minutes
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Director: Elaine Epstein
By the year 2000, an estimated 4.2 million people in South Africa were infected with HIV; if present trends continue by 2010, 7 million will have died of the disease. State of Denial puts a human face behind the numbers by introducing us to a cross-section of South Africans involved with the AIDS epidemic. It shows how they must fight not only the disease but the greed of the drug cartels and the incomprehensible inactivity of their own government in order to get treatment.
The film clearly blames President Thabo Mbeki and his administration for questioning the link between HIV and AIDS. Not only does his position prohibit the use of antiretroviral drugs, but adds to the confusion about how the disease is transmitted and about how to practice "safe sex". In 2000 he even arranged a special meeting of advisors and to which he invited "denialists", i.e. those who dispute that HIV causes AIDS, who used the meeting as a platform for their discredited views. There are those who contend that a reason for Mbeki's stance is that developing a program to make antiretrovirals widely available to the large numbers needing them would drain scarce funds from his plans to fight poverty in post-apartheid South Africa and leave his country beholden to international monetary and pharmaceutical interests. Yet the loss of a generation in its prime due to this disease would hurt the reconstruction of South Africa as much as anything facing the new society.
A remarkably successful movement, however, has grown up around this tragedy. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) opposed Mbeki's stone-walling and pressured drug companies to cut the cost of antiretroviral drugs and medications treating opportunistic infections. We meet Zackie Achmat, HIV positive leader of the campaign, who refused to take life-saving drugs until they are available through the public health system to every South African who needs them. TAC's activism forced Pfizer to drastically cut the cost of Diflucan which treats thrush, a common opportunistic infection among people with HIV. TAC has also gone to court and, over government objections, won the right of HIV positive pregnant women to use nevirapine to prevent passing on the disease to their children.
Ordinary South Africans are also unobtrusively volunteering to help those with AIDS. Buyile, a retired nurse, runs a home-based healthcare program in the Kutsong township of Carletonville. She travels more than 3 hours by train each day to reach her patients. There is little she can do without the proper drugs, for patients like Elizabeth who dies during the making of the film. We are also introduced to Mary, the mother of two infected children both of whom have been lucky enough to qualify for antiretroviral trials and are doing better. She worries, however, about what will happen to them if she does not get treatment.
Others are speaking out at great personal cost about their HIV status. In 1998 Gugu Dlamini was stoned to death by her neighbors when she announced that she had tested positive. Nonetheless Lucky Mazibuko writes a weekly column for the mass circulation Sowetan about life with AIDS. We hear from readers how Lucky's column has opened their eyes to the reality of AIDS. The Zola Support Group provides a forum for people with HIV, especially young women, to discuss their own relationships, sexual practices and the use of condoms.
State of Denial in essence argues that AIDS may well the greatest threat to South Africa since apartheid and, by extension, to the entire continent since colonialism and the slave trade. Neither profits nor politics can be placed before it. It will require the mobilization of the whole community, including the global community, to deal with this catastrophe. State of Denial is a disturbing yet inspiring tool for involving that community in the struggle against AIDS.
DVD (Closed Captioned, English, Sotho and Zulu with English subtitles) / 2003 / 83 minutes
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The AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa has crippled the agricultural community while forcing children to undertake the responsibilities of farming.
Barnabas and Mary Chalaba were once among the more prosperous farmers of their village in the north of Zambia. But today, they are destitute-too sick to farm their land, and dependent on their children to oversee the crops. Like 30 million others in sub-Saharan Africa, Mary and Barnabas are infected with the HIV virus.
In southern Africa, the highest rates of HIV infection occur among young adults, whose ages range from 15 to 49. This is the same group who, as agricultural workers and small scale farmers, are the backbone and future of countries such as Zambia. Since 1985, more than seven million farmers have succumbed to AIDS, striking at the heart of agricultural production.
But as SOWING SEEDS OF HUNGER shows, the fallout from this pandemic extends beyond agriculture, undermining development in the region while endangering the lives of orphans and widows affected by the rampant spread of HIV.
With the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
DVD (Color) / 2002 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 27 minutes
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By Renee Rosen and Xoliswa Sithole
SHOUTING SILENT explores the South African HIV/AIDS epidemic through the eyes of Xoliswa Sithole, an adult orphan who lost her mother to HIV/AIDS in 1996. Xoliswa journeys back home in search of other young women who have also lost their mothers to HIV/AIDS and are now struggling to raise themselves (and, in many cases, their siblings) on their own.
Sithole lyrically interweaves their unsettling stories with highly stylized imagery to help convey her own painful memories and document the grim statistics of HIV infection in Africa. These testimonials powerfully demonstrate how entire generations of young people are growing up without their parents and chronicles the devastating impact the AIDS pandemic is having on orphaned children in South Africa. An arresting and timely piece, SHOUTING SILENT is also a cinematographic gem that artistically and meditatively captures how these young women are quickly slipping through the cracks of society.
"Cuts through the WHO reports and New York Times news stories about the AIDS epidemic in Africa...absolutely refutes the idea that AIDS is just an illness confined to the body. It shows, with heart and compassion, that AIDS is about families, their everyday lives, and the bodies left behind after death." - Patricia R. Zimmerman, Professor, Cinema Studies, Ithaca College
"...a moving, disconcerting, yet very truthful and personal portrayal of the devastating effect of AIDS on women in South Africa. A must see for everyone advocating for AIDS activism on an international level." - Michelle Materre, Media Consultant, Prof, Communications Dept, New School University
''...poignant, sensitive and candid...It deals with an often-told story in an innovative and intimate way." - Steven Markovitz, Encounters South African Documentary Film Festival
Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO)
New York African Film Festival
South Africa Documentary Film Festival
Sithengi Film Festival, Cape Town, South Africa
Washington DC Independent Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize
San Francisco Black Film Festival, 2nd Prize
DVD (Color) / 2002 / 50 minutes
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By Joanne Burke
The fourth installment of Joanne Burke's critically acclaimed "New Directions" series on women's empowerment in developing countries, "Speaking Out" presents a compelling case study on the impact of AIDS on women from Mali and the devastating effects the epidemic is having in Africa today. This critically acclaimed documentary profiles a remarkable HIV and AIDS support project in Bamako, Mali, sponsored by The Center for Care, Activity and Council for People Living with HIV (CESAC), and three brave women who tirelessly work on behalf of the infected community. Risking social ostracism and family rejection, Aminita, Oumou and Aissata are among a small group who dare to speak publicly about their HIV+ status. They help others with HIV, particularly women, by joining AFAS, the women's association for the support of widows and children of AIDS. Through their advocacy work they hope to demonstrate to the Mali government the desperate need for a more pro-active HIV and AIDS strategy. With the help of CESAC, these inspiring women are proving that an HIV+ diagnosis is not the end of life, but the start of a positive future for all African men and women.
"...a rare and unparalleled teaching tool for courses in anthropology, international public health, women's studies, international affairs, and the medical humanities." - Susan L. Erikson, Global Health Affairs Program, University of Denver
"The film covers the whole gambit of issues related to people living with AIDS -- social, cultural barriers, discrimination, stigma, gender, community-based strategies, orphans and treatment. It is excellent for stimulating discussion on key issues." - Dr. Clarence Hall, Africare
"...compelling and important...I was genuinely moved." - Steve Taravella, Family Health International
San Francisco Black Film Festival
DVD (French, Color) / 2002 / 55 minutes
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Pharmaceutical companies block generic drugs, threatening the lives of millions of Africans with AIDS.
In a hospital in Uganda, 14-year-old Vincent is being treated for cryptococcal meningitis, contracted as a result of AIDS. Underweight, frightened and wracked with pain, he is one of literally millions of AIDS orphans across Africa who will die in the next ten years unless life-saving antiretroviral drugs become more widely available. But at current prices, the drugs are just too expensive for most African countries.
The fight for affordable drugs in Africa first made world headlines last year when a consortium of forty-two major pharmaceutical companies took the South African government to court over its right to import or manufacture generic drugs to treat AIDS sufferers.
After a global campaign by activist groups, trade unions and NGOs, the companies finally withdrew the case in April 2001 -- in what was likely regarded as a humiliating climb-down. But even before the court case outcome, the companies had begun reducing the prices of their patented drugs -- as part of the Accelerating Access Initiative brokered by UNAIDS to provide drugs at a lower cost and training to selected African countries.
This program from the City Life series investigates the background to AIDS treatment in Africa, reports of the success of the Ugandan program, and asks why the South African government is still refusing to authorize a national program of treatment for AIDS.
DVD (Color) / 2001 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 27 minutes
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By Brian Tilley
At the beginning of IT'S MY LIFE we learn that there are 4.7 million South Africans currently infected with the HIV virus and, despite the fact that anti-retroviral medicines allow people with HIV to lead almost normal lives, the South African government has failed to provide them in public hospitals and clinics. More damning, the President of the country, Thabo Mbeki, has consistently questioned the link between HIV and AIDS.
It is in this context that Zackie Achmat, the HIV positive acting chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), has decided not to take anti-retroviral medicines until they are made available by the government in public hospitals and clinics.
Filmed over five months, IT'S MY LIFE follows Zackie as he leads a court battle against the multi-national drug companies to allow the introduction of cheaper, generic drugs, and takes on the South African government for it's confusing policies around HIV/AIDS.
As a leader in the campaign for affordable treatment, Zackie's provocative position is not one all his friends and colleagues support. When Zackie gets ill, everyone wants to know why he refuses to take the medicines that would let him lead a healthier life.
IT'S MY LIFE interweaves personal and public images to provide an intimate look at an internationally profiled defiance campaign and the complexities of its leading figure.
"IT'S MY LIFE provides a disturbing window into the suffering of the HIV-infected South African population as it chronicles the desperate actions of Achmat to change the government's position concerning its health care obligations to its citizens. It delivers a potent message about the roles of government and pharmaceutical companies in the conflict over affordable AIDS drugs." - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics
"Inspiring... The worldwide impact of AIDS, universal health-care issues, and Achmat's heroic stance broaden the appeal of this memorable video." - Booklist
"This powerful, authentic story of a person, who is not unfamiliar to various types of suffering himself, carries a potent message of the power of the powerless, of the courage of personal sacrifice for the sake of the other humans whose rights are threatened. The film exceptionally showcases the defense of human rights and the necessity of global human responsibility to the world as a whole." - Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, 2002 One World International Human Rights Film Festival (Prague)
"A powerfully stirring portrait!" - Daily Mail & Guardian
"A dramatic and ultimately encouraging story of people power. Achmat is the charismatic, immensely clever, and arguably fanatical personality behind it. The film humanizes the pain of HIV as well as draws dramatic attention to Achmat's remarkable energy and moral courage. - Marc Epprecht, Dept. of History/Development Studies, Queens University, Kingston, Canada for H-Safrica Media Reviews
"An interesting introduction to a pointed political issue in South Africa and the World, and underscores the grass roots activism that continues to be necessary for proper advocacy of people with HIV/AIDS." - AIDS Book Review Journal
Special Award for Human Rights Awareness, 2002 One World International Human Rights Film Festival (Prague)
DVD (Color) / 2001 / 72 minutes
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