Aids documentary aims to 'ignite a revolution'

Ageing anti-apartheid leader Beyers Naude and Treatment Action Campaign activist Mark Heywood made a rare appearance at Montecasino on Tuesday night for the

premiership of Oscar-nominated director Robert Bilheimer’s Aids documentary A Closer Walk.

The inspirational film, which tours the epicentres of the pandemic from Africa to Asia to Europe and America, is said to be the first to depict the worldwide confrontation with the cruel, unforgiving plague.

Bilheimer, who in 1989 received an Academy Award nomination for his feature-length documentary on Beyers Naude, told the audience after the screening the aim of his project was nothing short of “igniting a revolution”.

The American born producer accused world leaders of having failed the people—an accusation born out in A Closer Walk where the treatable, preventable nature of the disease is consistently honed in on, only to be contrasted with the grim reality.

“Its time for the people to take control ... Kennedy once spokes of a ripple effect. We are all here tonight and this is where the ripple begins ...
When you have people in the back doing something ... then you can be damn well sure leaders in the front will take notice.

“Our website has already had a million hits ... I’m optimistic. When ordinary people get the message, they respond. If you want to know what to do now, as individuals, show the film to others and get the movement going ...

“It is my honour to stand before you tonight and suggest to you that the impossible dream could just well be coming true,” Bilheimer said.

The director/producer whose film is narrated by Glenn Close and Will Smith, and stars renowned activists such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and U2’s Bono, said the film was set to bring the crisis to a global audience.

Its distribution and marketing campaign includes movie and television screenings worldwide as well as schools and university shows. Tuesday’s screening, sponsored by General Motors and Delta Motor Corporation, was in hope of the documentary’s being sold to the industry.

But as the TAC’s Heywood pointed out, the significance of the film and the value of the premiership screening in South Africa would only be born out locally if the notables in attendance on Tuesday night “put their money where their mouth is”.

Heywood said the film was very powerful and that that was a wonderful thing, but those attending the cocktail party event needed to remember the film was about five-million South Africans towards whom they had a personal responsibility.

A Closer Walk is dedicated to public health pioneer Jonathan Mann, who launched Africa’s first Aids research programme in Zaire. Mann was killed in a Swissair aircraft crash off Nova Scotia in 1988. - Sapa

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