Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
USA Today Profiles Academy Award-Nominated Filmmaker Robert Bilheimer’s AIDS Documentary, Inspiration for Film Jonathan Mann
USA Today profiles Academy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Bilheimer and his new documentary on global AIDS, titled A Closer Walk. The film, which previews today in Los Angeles, is an "ambitious attempt to bring the magnitude of the AIDS crisis to a global audience," USA Today reports. Narrated by actors Glenn Close and Will Smith, the film tells the stories of Paul Farmer, a Harvard professor and researcher who runs an AIDS clinic in Haiti; Hassan Semankula, a 15-year-old Ugandan teenager who dropped out of school to care for his family, who is dying of AIDS-related causes; Rev. Emanuel Cleaver, former Kansas City mayor and preacher at St. James United Methodist Church; the Dalai Lama; Irish rock star Bono; and others affected by and working to fight HIV/AIDS. Bilheimer and his colleagues plan to market and distribute the film to movie theaters, national and international television stations, schools, colleges and grassroots groups. In addition, General Motors donated $500,000 to finance a public awareness program that would allow the movie to be shown at additional theaters in Washington, D.C.; Kansas City; Johannesburg, South Africa; and New Delhi, India (Sternberg, USA Today, 2/5). USA Today also profiles in a separate article AIDS advocate Jonathan Mann, who served as Bilheimer's inspiration for the film after his death in the 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111 (Sternberg, USA Today, 2/5). Mann was a public health pioneer whose experience in Zaire "convinced him that AIDS was a symptom of a deeper social sickness and that public health and human rights go hand in hand," according to USA Today. Although Mann's death occurred just before filming was scheduled to begin for the documentary, his passing "only strengthened [Bilheimer's] resolve to finish the film," USA Today reports (Sternberg, USA Today, 1/25).
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