Our screening of youth-made short films on HIV

Text by Ruby, Photography by Beya & Emily | YAHAnet interns

On March 22, 2013, YAHAnet hosted an end-of-the-school-year movie night on McGill campus, where we screened four short films relating to HIV/AIDS and youth. The event was informal and fun, complete with lots of delicious snacks, and gave members of the McGill community who are interested in HIV/AIDS, youth, and the arts, the opportunity to come together for meaningful discussion and idea sharing. We also created a condom mosaic art gallery of different symbols relating to the fight against HIV/AIDS throughout the last 30 years.

The short films that were shown were from around the world and all offered a youth voice on HIV/AIDS.

1. "Unafraid" was made by a 20-year-old student at Miami Ad School and features a man reflecting on his youth and recounting the year of his life when he became infected with HIV.
5 minutes, United States, 2012

2. "Angalo / An Embrace" was made by the youth-led organization YUWA and breaks down stigmas and misconceptions by capturing the life of an orphan living with HIV who faces misunderstanding at home but finds acceptance from a stranger. 15 minutes, Nepal, 2012

3. "A Walk Through Life" was made by a second-year student. It is a creative and hopeful film that unfolds as a dream spanning past and present, focusing on societal attitudes towards those who are living with HIV and the daily interactions and struggles that people living with HIV have to go through. More info | 8 minutes, Ghana, 2011

4. Finally, "Undefeated", which was made by Body & Soul Charity's Life in My Shoes campaign and premiered at Cannes in 2012, explores stigma and discrimination towards a high school student living with HIV in the UK. We were very privileged to host one of the first screenings in North America—the film hasn't been officially released yet! More info | 30 minutes, UK, 2012

These four films were chosen by the YAHAnet team because they flowed together through the themes of past and present and wandering/finding a path in life. They proved to generate a lot of thought and reflection, and here you can see attendees filling out a survey on "Undefeated" to help the Life in My Shoes campaign shape the film into a learning resource outside of the UK and also create a second part to the story.

I think that "Undefeated" has a lot of potential to promote acceptance and tolerance towards persons living with HIV among youth because it is fresh, fast paced, and a beautifully-made film. The aesthetics, soundtrack, and style are all what today’s youth expect from a film, and because it delivers this, the themes that are explored relating to HIV will resonate and have a lasting effect. I think creating relatable characters in settings that youth can identify with is a really important strategy in promoting tolerance and positive attitudes towards people living with HIV. "Undefeated" was very successful at creating this and promoting those messages.

Overall, the event was a success and participants were able to have a fun and relaxed evening while enjoying some incredible films and art! We want to give a special shout-out to Emily, the Campaign Director at Life in My Shoes, for being so supportive of YAHAnet's work and letting us show her wonderful film.

If you would like to host a screening of these films, we would be happy to send you a discussion package that you could use or adapt. We could also put you in touch with the Life in My Shoes campaign to ask permission to show the full-length version of "Undefeated"!