Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No More Stigma Film Series Kicks Off at Maysles Cinema Harlem

The husband can barely look his wife in the eye when she accuses him of having unprotected sex with other women.  The husband steals glances and shoots back denials, never quite looking her directly in the eye.  The wife continues.  She accuses him of infecting her with HIV.  The husband responds with the accusation that it might have been her ex-boyfriend that gave it to her, and she in turn, gave it to him.  A typical argument between husband and wife, except that the husband has three wives and this conversation was captured by a documentary crew in a rural village in modern day Zambia, Africa.  This scene in the film “The Carrier”, a must-see feature length documentary film by first-time director Maggie Betts, serves as a gap closer between the HIV epidemic among African Americans in the U.S. and our distant “cousins” on the continent.  As I watched the film, I could not help but feel connected.

Still Image From "The Carrier"

Albert Maysles (seated) and Maggie Betts, director, "The Carrier" at the No More Stigma Film Series

“The Carrier” was the first feature film shown at the debut of GET DOWN and Maysles Cinema’s No More Stigma Film Series on Thursday, June 21st.   The evening opened with a sneak preview super trailer from another first-time director Mike Brown“25 To Life” chronicles the aftermath of former Howard University student William Brawner’s stunning announcement that he was HIV positive.   The forthcoming feature documentary captured the reaction of William’s close friends, former Howard classmates, and family to his public disclosure on commercial radio.  According to the film, William’s mother instructed him at age two to never disclose this HIV status.  It was this, states William, that caused him to suppress this secret so deep down inside, that as a sexually active young adult, he was promiscuous and had unprotected sex.  The feature film will chronicle William’s redemptive journey to find past lovers and make amends with those his decisions have impacted, including his protective mother. 

Still Image From "25 To Life"

Peelahr Moore and Leah Thompson, producers, "25 To Life" at the No More Stigma Film Series

According to “25 To Life” producer Leah Thompson, the film includes interviews with his mother, wife, and a few of those past lovers.  The full-length film has had a few test screenings and according to director Brown “A number of people who have seen the latest cut of  "25 To Life" have said that the film will be an explosive conversation starter around sex, STDs, relationships, and beyond.  To help us keep the dialogue productive, we will enlist the support and assistance of experts and organizations such as the Balm in Gilead, Black AIDS Institute, the CDC, and the NAACP, to name a few.”  “25 To Life” has received funding and support from organizations such as the Ford Foundation, Sundance Documentary Institute, and IDA.

Q&A Panel at the No More Stigma Film Series. From left: Adrian Guzman, Center For HIV Law & Policy, director Maggie Betts, producers Leah Thompson and Peelahr Moore, David Lopez, Harlem United and moderator De'Von Christopher, President &CEO Bleu Life Media.

De'Von Christopher and Jessica Green, Cinema Director.
A post-screening Q&A, was moderated by De’Von Christopher, president and CEO of Bleu Life Media (Bleu Magazine), included the filmmakers along with Adrian Guzman of the Center For HIV Law and Policy/TeenSENSE and David Lopez of Harlem United. The conversation became quite spirited around the issue of criminalization of HIV, and whether someone who is HIV positive and has unprotected sex without disclosing their status should be prosecuted as a criminal.  GET DOWN covered this topic last year’s in the blog “Is It A Crime? A Look At HIV Criminalization in the U.S.”  Stopping by the event was Maysles Institute Founder Albert Maysles, who felt strongly that the world needed to see these films and that “The Carrier” is a film that deserves distribution.  We’re with you Mr. Maysles.  We’re with you.

The No More Stigma Film Series will continue on August 23rd, October 30th and December 1st for World Aids Day 2012.  Doors are 6:30pm and the screening starts at 7:30pm.

To stay up to date on the series, FRIEND US at and join the Maysles Cinema mailing list at

To support and find out more about Maggie Bett’s “The Carrier”, go to and visit their website here

Check out Mike Brown’s “25 To Life” here and join their mailing list here

For more information on the No More Stigma Film Series and upcoming films, check out and

Read.  Share.  Discuss.  Educate.

--Kim J. Ford
GET DOWN Creator/Executive Producer

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