Every 10 seconds, someone in the world dies from AIDS. The disease
has killed 24 million people already. Numbers like these are overwhelming
and hard to really comprehend, so filmmaker Rory Kennedy set out to give
the numbers some impact by putting a human face on the millions of people
who have HIV.
This film profiles five people who have AIDS or work with individuals
who are HIV positive. Each person comes from a different country
where the disease is spreading at different rates and for different reasons.
In Uganda, Margaret and Apollo work with children whose parents have
died of AIDS. They try to educate adults too, traveling to the rural
communities and villages and teaching about the spread of the disease.
They also pay for people to get tested.
Russia has an AIDS problem too. There the main method of transition
is from shared needles among drug abusers. In this country the movie
profiles a couple of ex-addicts who have contracted the disease and become
activists, trying to educate the public.
Bhanu is a native of India who contracted the disease from a prostitute
after he was married. He stopped sleeping with his wife when he found
out, but she really wants a child. They risk getting her infected
in order to create a child.
Thailand had the most heart wrenching story. A young girl is abandoned
by her husband and left with their child. She turns to prostitution
to support herself, and contracts the fatal disease. Her family is
ashamed of her, and so she leaves her son with them and moves to one of
the few hospices in the country.
A homosexual man, Alex, contracts the disease in Brazil where they have
a socialized medical program that pays for the drugs he needs to treat,
but not cure, the disease.
These five stories were moving, and tearful in parts. The movie
succeeds in putting a face on AIDS victims in other countries, but that
is all it does. It does not attempt to offer any solutions to the
spread of AIDS. The film does note what steps are being taken in
the countries it visits, but it makes no judgment as to what is the most
effective. The film doesn't excite the viewer into action, either.
But I feel it's biggest failing as a documentary is that I was not educated.
I didn't learn anything the I didn't already know. The fact that
AIDS is a world wide problem is common knowledge, as are the main methods
of transmition. Having a stronger thread running through the
film would have made it a better movie.
The audio to this movie was appropriate. Being a documentary and
dialog driven, this two channel mono mix is not going to push your sound
system to its limits, but the dialog is clear and there are not annoying
audio defects like hums or pops.
This picture is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Being
a documentary, this film doesn't have the best video quality, but it isn't
horrible either. There are prevalent digital artifacts, cross coloration,
some aliasing, and they used edge enhancement on the picture too.
Parts of the film are a little bright in places where highlights get washed
out. Other than that, it looks good for a documentary.
There are a few extras on this DVD, all except the trailers are text
based. There is a statement from the filmmaker and her biography.
There's a photo gallery with still pictures of all the people profiled,
and a Resource Guide that gives address and web sites for agencies that
deal with this disease. There are also trailers to other Docudrama
I am not sure if the movie successes ultimately. Pandemic:
Facing AIDS is a snapshot of the conditions of AIDS sufferers in different
countries of the world. The fact that it didn't try to educate the
viewer or offer potential solution left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied.
If you are interested in the subject, the film is well done, but I just
don't feel that it adds much to the dialog concerning HIV and AIDS.