DER Documentary

Lifecycles: A Story of AIDS in Malawi

Lifecycles: A Story of AIDS in Malawi launch preview watch a preview

from the Development Communications Workshop Collection
by Doug Karr & Sierra Bellows
color, 57 min, 2003

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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

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Official Selection, Atlantic Film Festival, 2003

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