Arts Program To Be Held in Conjunction With XV International AIDS Conference; Includes Film Festival, Other Programs
The Silabha Art and Cultural Programme, which will include art, modern and traditional dance, film, poetry, magic, games, local storytelling, puppetry, paintings, photography and fashion, will be held July 10-17 to coincide with the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Thailand's Nation reports. The program is meant to bring a "cultural richness and dynamism to the conventionally science-oriented conference," as well as a deeper understanding of HIV/AIDS, Chantawipa Apisuk, who is involved with the cultural program, said, according to the Nation. The program will include works by artists from 29 countries. Highlights include the Africasia program, an exchange program between African and Asian communities to share the "traditional wisdom and contemporary culture they use to fight HIV/AIDS," according to the Nation (Mukdawan, Nation, 7/2). The Silabha Programme also will include an AIDS Film Festival, which will feature more than 22 movies from 13 countries focusing on HIV/AIDS issues, and will open with a screening of the global AIDS documentary "A Closer Walk," the Nation reports (Nation, 7/2). The film, by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Bilheimer, 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 after his parents died 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/28). Actor Richard Gere, founder of the Gere Foundation, and actress Ashley Judd, who serves as the Youth AIDS global ambassador, will preside over the festival opening, the Nation reports (Nation, 7/2).
Youth AIDS Ambassadors
Judd, along with Coco Lee -- the Youth AIDS ambassador for Asia -- will visit Wat Phra Baht Nam Phu in Lop Buri, a temple that offers care for people living with HIV/AIDS, the Nation reports. Judd and Lee also are scheduled to visit Gerda House, a home for AIDS orphans, and attend the opening of "Life Force," a photo exhibition focusing on young people living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand. Judd and Lee also are scheduled to meet with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to the Nation (Tanita, Nation, 7/2). Chumpon Apisuk, coordinator of the arts program, said, "[W]e want to make the arts an innovative and positive tool to approach the difficult issue of HIV and AIDS" to follow the conference's theme of "Access for All." Chumpon added that although academics, advocates and the media will be "debating the issues at the conference, we will let art offer a loud, non-verbal message" (Phatarawadee, Nation, 7/2).
Some nongovernmental organizations have asked conference organizers to replace Miss Thailand as the first person to light a memorial candle at a ceremony to be held during the opening of the conference, the Bangkok Post reports. Nimit Thienudom of the AIDS Access Foundation after a pre-conference meeting said that it would be "more appropriate" for someone affected by HIV/AIDS to light the candle during the ceremony because it is meant to honor the memory of people who have died from AIDS-related causes, according to the Post. The candlelight ceremony is scheduled to follow opening remarks from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Thaksin, Thai Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan and International AIDS Society President Joep Lange. Sudarat said that she would consider replacing Miss Thailand with an HIV-positive child, according to the Post (Bangkok Post, 7/2).