Tuesday, June 11, 2013

deepsouth (2012) Human RIghts Watch Film Festival 2013

At a festival full of films that for the most part are painfully serious and frequently down right depressing it's such an absolute joy to find a film that is full of hope and the human spirit. This is the perfect film to cleanse the soul and renew the spirit after seeing some of the other films at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

deepsouth is a portrait of primarily four people connected by AIDS and HIV in the deep south of America.  We meet Josh, a young man looking for support in life even if it's with a found family miles away from his real home. There is Monica and Tammy two women who, with no money, run an annual  retreat for people with the disease. And there is Kathie who travels the country trying to get the various governments to cough up enough money to actually make a difference.

The film is damning look at all of the people who despite being swept under the rug or shoved in a closet, are trying to better their own situations, and those of the people around them. Everyone is living in the rural south, far and away from any big cities. As the opening of the film makes clear this is the part of  America where slavery once held sway, where poverty took it's place and where the majority of AIDS/HIV cases came to be thanks to fear suspicion and misunderstanding.

For me the film is wonderful on any number of levels. First it shows very clearly that despite the quiet of mainstream media the disease has not gone away. The disease is in fact centered in a large population of  often marginalized people, which of course doesn't make it sexy. As AIDS moved in to more marginalized people the money drifted away.

Second is shows that just because you're with a person with AIDS it doesn't mean you're going to die. As everyone, many who have been living with the disease for decades, says no one in my family has caught the disease from me. I know that it may seem like a no duh statement, but do you have any idea how many people fear some one with AIDS for no good reason?

And then there is the hope. I'm not inferring that life is grand for anyone with the disease or fighting to get money to help those with it, only that there are some people with the disease who are not going to go down without a fight. They will find a place to belong, they will change minds, they will laugh and not let life get them down. It is the hope, the desire to go on despite the misplaced hatred hurdled them that makes the people in this film so special. For me the notion that this film exists and that it can be shown to someone who may feel alone and isolated, and that maybe just maybe that they will feel less alone is whats special.  No life isn't easy, this film doesn't say things are easy, it simply says that there are people working to make things better and that there are places where you can belong. Sometimes knowing that there are good people out there is enough. deepsouth is much more than enough.

This film plays Saturday the 15th at 5pm and Monday the 17th at 7pm at the IFC Center. Details at The Human Rights Watch Film Festival website. Go see it.

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