Local Documentary Released for World AIDS Day
A locally produced documentary, Aging & HIV: A Story of Resiliency, is being released on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020.
The film tells the story of seven persons living with HIV/AIDS from Windsor, Sarnia and Chatham who were diagnosed with HIV between 1987 and 2013. At first, the news was life-limiting, but they turned the news around by choosing to support one another, help others and make the world a better place.
“Our plan was to launch the film in a local theatre. However, realizing that there are few, if any, World AIDS Day events in 2020, we decided to release the documentary through a website set up for this purpose. Oddly enough, the timing for an online release of this educational and heart-warming story could not be better. People are at home, and the AIDS Crisis in the 80s and 90s felt a lot like the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, so will be of interest to many.” – Amanda Gellman, Producer/Director
The film begins by showing where the PHAs were in their lives when first diagnosed, and the unrest this news caused for them and their loved ones. It gives a glimpse of the journeys of Greg Scratch, Joanne Schingh, Mark McCallum, Don Turner, Jack Haight, Eli Martin and Steve Pratt. Their stories represent millions of others around the world. The film shows how they take care of one another, which is an important part of what Jack Haight refers to when he says “HIV put me on a spiritual quest.”
Recovering from the earth-shattering news, long-term survivors made it, in part, because they found new purpose in life. They discuss moments that shaped their lives, and the relationships they built along the way.
The 45-minute film also briefly looks at the obstacles and set-backs experienced by long-term survivors – isolation, poverty, PTSD, unemployment, and more. The participants talk about a ‘system’ that is not set up to take care of aging persons living with HIV/AIDS. Michael Brennan, Executive Director, Pozitive Pathways, formerly the AIDS Committee of Windsor, and Sean Rourke, PhD, a renowned HIV/AIDS researcher from Windsor who is now with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto back up these statements and add new information. Kenny Gbadebo, Executive Director, Youth Connection Association, comments on behalf of new Canadians.
Aging and HIV: A Story of Resiliency is available for FREE viewings only. “We hope that the film serves to combat the isolation of long-term survivors, many of whom were determined advocates when the movement needed them most. Their resiliency is our inspiration,” says Gellman. “We also hope that our film inspires anyone who has been diagnosed, or has a family member or friend who has been diagnosed, with HIV/AIDS or any life-threatening or serious illness. The message is universal, regardless of illness, ethnicity, age or gender.”