STORRS, Conn.– Just days after the United Nations announced a record number of people are living with HIV worldwide, film maker Elaine Epstein will be at the University of Connecticut to discuss the making of her award-winning documentary about the attitudes and government policies perpetuating the epidemic in South Africa, the country hardest hit by the disease.
Epstein will answer audience questions about State of Denial, which originally aired on PBS in 2003 and is an official selection of both the Sundance Film Festival and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. She will speak following a screening of the documentary at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30, in the Student Union Theater.
The event is part of World AIDS Awareness Week.
The film presents an intimate portrait of a country grappling with AIDS amid a climate of confusion and neglect exacerbated by the policies of South African President Thabo Mbeki, according to Epstein, a former public healthcare worker from Durban, South Africa, turned film maker. By questioning the link between HIV and AIDS and casting doubt on the safety of antiretroviral therapies, President Mbeki has obstructed efforts to reduce infection rates and to prevent thousands of people from dying from the disease, Epstein wrote in her director’s statement.
The screening and discussion of State of Denial at UConn comes after the publication this fall of a new book critical, written by UN Special Envoy to Africa on AIDS Stephen Lewis, of Mbeki’s handling of the epidemic.
World AIDS Awareness Week activities, which run from Monday, Nov. 28, through World AIDS Day on Thursday, Dec. 1, are sponsored by the following campus organizations: the Center for Health/ HIV Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), Student Health Services, the Human Rights Institute, the William Benton Museum of Art, the Hillel Foundation, the African American Cultural Center, the Asian American Cultural Center, the Puerto Rican/ Latin American Cultural Center, the Women’s Center and the Rainbow Center.
State of Denial won the audience award for best documentary at the Florida Film Festival in 2003.