A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Films for a Future

Don Edkins is a documentary film producer who makes films with a social edge; good films. Over the last few years, he and his film production companies, Day Zero and Steps to the Future, have made a series of films relating to HIV/ Aids. To do so they search out local filmmakers, to make local stories. For Don, it is important that his films get social messages across, without being prescriptive. It is about people telling their own stories, in their own ways.

Across Southern Africa, his team hunted down stories which highlight both the gravity and the humour of the HIV crisis- from how condoms are used as football fillers in Mozambique, to the life story of Zachie Achmat, founder of Treatment Action Society, one of the leading HIV/ Aids advocacy organisations in South Africa (interestingly, Zachie is also an Ashoka Fellow. On the day I tried to contact him, I turned on the news, only to see that he had been arrested for his advocacy work. Crazy!)

To accompany the films Steps to the Future was launched; an organisation which supports an education and distribution campaign around the films, to get them seen and discussed by as many people as possible. Mobile cinemas have been touring the region, broadcasting the films in schools, hospitals, education centres and prisons. The ‘characters’ in the films also frequently travel to the showings, facilitating discussion and responding to the often sensitive questions and comments which arise.

In addition to all of this, Steps has a training of trainers programme in place- teaching teams of facilitators how to work with the films and importantly manage the conversations which can arise. In all the films are acting as platforms for further debate, probing into the real issues, telling real stories.

Don’s next big project is on the theme of Democracy. He is producing a series of films from all around the world, which will be based on the theme, and screened simultaneously. I’ll be keeping my eye out for them. I suggest you do too!


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