HBO Films’ ‘Yesterday’ Chronicles Life of HIV-Positive South African Woman
"Yesterday," the story of an HIV-positive woman in a remote South African village, "provides a small, unusual look at the global tragedy" of HIV/AIDS, the New York Times reports. Instead of focusing on the millions of South Africans who have died of HIV/AIDS, the film examines the "tragedy of one death," according to the Times (Stanley, New York Times, 11/28). The woman, who is named Yesterday and is portrayed by South African actress Leleti Khumalo, learns that she is HIV-positive, seeks to provide a "comfortable" death for her husband, from whom she contracted the virus, and to see her daughter, Beauty, enter school (Duke, Washington Post, 11/28). "Yesterday" is the first South African film to receive an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, and is the first international feature film ever shot in the Zulu language, the AP/Charlotte Observer reports. According to producer Anant Singh, writer and director Darrell James Roodt spent two years researching the Zulu villages of South Africa, which has more HIV-positive residents than any other country in the world, and only one physician for every 18,000 residents. Singh said he and Roodt wanted to make a film that "demonstrates the horrific nature of the disease and the challenges that it brings" (Rhoshalle Littlejohn, AP/Charlotte Observer, 11/25). The film was made with the support of Nelson Mandela, whose oldest son died of HIV/AIDS-related causes in January, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. In a statement of support for the film, Mandela said it will "assist in spreading the message of prevention, caring for and supporting those infected and affected by the pandemic, and most importantly, highlight the need to remove stigma and discrimination" (Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel, 11/27). The film's Web site includes an interview with Roodt (HBO release, 11/28). A video preview of the film is available online in RealPlayer. "Yesterday" airs on Monday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.