Film Explores Rising HIV Rate In Nation's Capital
Washington D.C. may be one of the most powerful cities in the world, but a new film making its world debut at this year's Tribeca Film Festival is shedding light on the harsh reality of HIV and AIDS. NY1's Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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The District of Columbia may be the seat of the nation's power, but filmmakers behind "The Other City" are showing audiences there's a major part most Americans don't really know about. At least three percent of the District's population is HIV positive. It's a number that goes beyond what's defined as a severe epidemic. But as the film shows, it is a city that didn't even have a firm grasp on just how big the problem was until a few years ago.
"When I first started reporting on this in 2003, that was the biggest problem, trying to figure out the number. I mean HIV cases versus AIDS cases," said "The Other City" co-producer & screenwriter Jose Antonio Vargas. "HIV is really the living disease and AIDS is really the latter stage. So if you really want to look at the future of the epidemic, look at HIV."
The film gets the viewer thinking about what the government's role should be in addressing an epidemic where it seems that no real strategy to get a handle on it existed until recently. It also tells the personal stories of a wide demographic affected by and living with HIV and AIDS.
"The goal, initially, was really to tell these stories and capture the humanity of each of the characters in the film because I think they speak for themselves," Vargas said. "I think really more than answering any policy question of solving this disease, which is the vaccine that is still not there, is to just kind of shine a light o the individual stories and individual struggles. And hopefully people who watch it will come away meeting people that they really didn't meet, that maybe they have never looked at in that way or in that light before."
For more information about "The Other City" and screening schedules, visit www.tribecafilm.com.