Thursday, November 11, 2010

Learning through Art: HIV/AIDS in Film--Walking on Sunshine

It's not often when we hear about HIV/AIDS on TV. That's why I was surprised when, a few years ago, BET launched an AIDS Short Subject Film Competition. Walking on Sunshine was one of the winning scripts. Here's the review, originally published in A&U Magazine--America's AIDS Magazine.

Hope you enjoy the read and the film.
Alina Oswald
Author of Journeys Through Darkness

Walking on Sunshine
Film Review
By Alina Oswald

AIDS awareness; this is what first comes to mind after watching Tracy Taylor's Walking on Sunshine, one of the two winning scripts in this year's Rap-It-Up/Black AIDS Short Subject Film Competition launched by BET, the Black AIDS Institute, and the Kaiser Family Foundation. 
Premiering on BET, on Wednesday, December 1st, as part of World AIDS Day special program together with Tangy's Song, the second winning short film, Walking on Sunshine explores the issue of HIV/AIDS and its impact on African American women and communities through the lives of two sisters each living different lifestyles.     
The film raises AIDS awareness through its simple, yet touching story mirroring our present, everyday reality. The actors entertain and educate, while interacting with the audience in two ways: indirectly, through the story they tell, and directly, through eye-opening and vital information, statistics and warnings regarding HIV/AIDS.  They portray characters whose HIV/AIDS stories "[are] happening now in America" and not even "as far away from us as good old Hollywood."  Actors excel in bringing to life the it-could-happen-to-you type of situations addressed by the film's storyline, and in sending a clear and powerful message: "if you think [AIDS] won't affect you, you'd better think again."  
Walking on Sunshine also addresses other topics, like honesty and trust; practicing safe sex; the fear factor, denial and resistance associated with getting tested and facing the HIV test result; various concepts about love, friendship, and relationships.  The film revisits misconceptions and beliefs regarding contracting the virus and presents a twenty-year old image of AIDS through the eyes of different generations.   
As audience of this interactive, educative and informative twenty-minute film we identify with the characters and reflect on our own lives' experiences; we learn from their stories and witness first hand the ample effect an HIV-positive test result can have on one's life. 
In the process, we learn how to prevent ourselves from HIV/AIDS or how to deal with the disease; we become more informed, more aware and in touch with today's AIDS reality.  Twenty minutes of Walking on Sunshine may just be the most important ones in our lives.

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