Conversations with the Living: The Haitian AIDS Crisis

The official blog of Conversations with the Living

Archive for July 2011

Question: Will the UN ever leave Haiti?

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Answer: Probably not while I’m alive. (ML)


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July 28, 2011 at 11:53 pm

CWTL Production Diary: LC making moves…

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Tonight LC had a very important meeting for CWTL. On the other hand, I have started what I hope will be the final pass with the CWTL teaser trailer.

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July 28, 2011 at 12:35 am

CWTL Diary: The Tyranny of the Camera Lens

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Recently, I posted an image on our blog. It is the picture of a poor family during the great depression. It belongs to a series of images taken for the Farm Service Administration (FSA) and its attempts to “show” America it’s poor, thereby making the case for the many New Deal programs being enacted at the time. It was taken by Walker Evans, one of the greatest photographers to pick up a camera.

I chose it not for who took the picture or for any aesthetic reasons, but to illustrate one of the realities of documentary making (photo or film), especially if it is a character driven narrative. By nature, the moment you point a camera lens at a person and capture them on film, the act is inherently exploitative. Making matters worse, documentary history is filled with examples where the camera is trained on a subject that is arguably in a position more vulnerable or less empowered than the people behind it. The Evans photo is but one example.

Michael Moorer films are filled with people, victims of some abuse or misfortune, telling their stories. Make no mistake, on a very basic level he us exploiting then to tell his story. We are all guilty of it.

Born into Brothels? Same deal. The filmmaker and the children are by no means equals, even when they are holding cameras.

Those are just two examples. The list goes on for as long as cameras or camera-like devices have been used. Call it the tyranny of the camera lens.

So does that mean that character driven documentaries should not be made? Not at all. What is important is that the filmmakers be cognizant of the almost absolute power they wield over the subjects of their film. At each stage of the process, there should be some means of ensuring that the subject is consulted and understands what is going on.

To bring the discussion back to still photography, Diane Arbus put it succinctly, “The camera is cruel, so I try to be as good as I can to make things even.”

A little effort makes a world of difference.

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July 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm

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Saturday July 23: Here is a video that was edited as one of a series of videos covering numerous regions of the World for WORLD AIDS DAY and includes footage from the 25th Annual AIDS Walk LOS ANGELES. Need to work on pulling together the images from last year. Will share with everyone soon.

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July 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

CWTL Production Diary

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An image to ponder for two days. Discussion coming.


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July 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm

The Lazarus Effect

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“The Lazarus Effect” is a documentary that drives home one of the main points we are hoping to highlight in Conversations with the Living – that the simple act of an HIV-positive person receiving their medication dramatically improves their lives. The description for the doc is as follows:

Executive produced by Spike Jonze, this (RED), HBO & Anonymous Content 30-minute documentary follows the story of HIV positive people in Africa who in as few as 40 days undergo a remarkable transformation thanks to access to treatment that costs around 40 cents a day. Directed by Lance Bangs.

If you have a half hour to spare, I’d suggest giving it a look. You’ll be glad you did.

Written by conversationswiththeliving

July 19, 2011 at 10:43 pm

CWTL Production Diary: Getting Moving Again with the LA AIDS Walk and then some…

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Monday July, 18th – 7:30PM:

Hello from Los Angeles, where the Conversations With the Living team has registered  for the LA AIDS WALK, which is happening on October 16th, 2011. Members of our team have walked for the past several years as individuals, but this year we are walking as a team, joining grassroots fundraisers and community activists who raise millions of dollars for organizations working to make a difference in the lives of people affected by HIV/AIDS.

AIDS WALK LOS ANGELES  has raised $66 million for HIV programs and services in Los Angeles County since 1985 and unites people of all ages, races, and backgrounds.

These individuals and organizations are pulling together in an organized effort to provide urgently needed funds that will go to provide critical resources to those affected by HIV, including food, medication, housing, emotional support and to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in their community and across the globe.

We will be getting our group site up to speed and ready to share with you so you can track our progress as we work to reach our fundraising goal.

I will post the information once our group page is set-up and hope you will visit the site to learn a little more about what the LA community is doing to fight HIV/AIDS. As you know it is not just about October 16th, 2011 in LA or December 1st on WORLD AIDS DAY;  events like these all over the world bring people together, garner support from the community and yield impressive results – proof positive that when a focused effort is made and the critical need to fund HIV/AIDS initiatives is present in dialogue about community and global health there can be amazing outcomes. Once or twice a year is not enough, but it is an amazing opportnity to become involved and have your voice heard. Many of those involved in these very important events have made the fight against HIV/AIDS their life’s work. Conversations With the Living is looking forward to supporting these organziations in their work and hopes that our project will help shed light on the significance of their efforts and the positive results of their dedication.

As Conversations With the Living continues to move forward and works to complete its film focused on HIV/AIDS in Haiti, a project over two years in the making, we understand the importance of being involved in the global fight against HIV, and remain inspired by the support in communities like LA and NYC for a disease that prior to community support carried with it a crippling uncertainty. My hope is that the same level of  engagement and acceptance for those suffering from HIV/AIDS will be found in developing countries like Haiti. This is one of the many things that we are working for.

Will post our video from the LA AIDS Walk from the last two years shortly.

– LC