Congo Television Pilot Featuring HIV/AIDS Stories in Local Language To Air
The first episode of "My Story" -- a television series inspired by people living with HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo -- is scheduled to air this month on Congolese television stations in Lingala, the most common local language, Inter Press Service reports. The series director, Djo Tunda Wa Munga, a Congolese filmmaker who trained at Institut National Superieur des Arts du Spectacle in Brussels, Belgium, said another local program inspired him to create the series. "I was very surprised to see AIDS patients come openly and with uncovered faces to speak of the illness on television," Wa Munga said.
At the end of 2006, he contacted the people from the show that inspired him and used experiences from their lives to create a fictional series. The pilot, "Papy," is based on the story of Papy Ilunga, a police officer who was rejected by his family after he told them he was HIV-positive. The episode was filmed in Kinshasa, DRC, and professional actors play the characters. "The foundation of reality is very important to my approach. From this, I try to establish story lines," Wa Munga said. According to Inter Press Service, the first episode tries to convey that HIV-positive people need the support of their families to fight the disease.
Several organizations and governments -- including the International Organisation of La Francophonie, the King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium and Germany -- contributed financially to the filming of "Papy." Wa Munga's project also has the support of UNAIDS Director Peter Piot, Inter Press Service reports. KBF and Belgium gave about $71,000, according to Inter Press Service.
Gerrit Rauws, health affairs director at KBF, said the foundation had two goals in supporting the series -- "helping a Congolese cinematic project [and] an ambitious project to fight HIV/AIDS." Sabine Ruppol, a technical counselor for Belgian governmental aid, called the film a "strong signal," adding that "each Congolese can recognize themselves in it, and that's proof of success."
The series is the first HIV/AIDS-related television program to air in Lingala. The pilot also will air on TV5 Monde and will appear at film festivals, including the Fortnight of Francophone Cinema, which begins Friday in Paris. According to UNAIDS data from 2005, there are about one million people living with HIV/AIDS in DRC, including approximately 100,000 children (Walschaerts, Inter Press Service, 10/5).
A preview of the production can be seen on YouTube.