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COM profs’ AIDS documentary selected by Boston International Film Festival

A Tale of Two Teens, by Susan Walker and Geoff Poister, will be screened this Friday.

COM's Susan Walker

A film about AIDS by two College of Communication professors has been selected by this year’s Boston International Film Festival. A Tale of Two Teens, by Susan Walker, an associate professor, and Geoff Poister, an assistant professor, will be screened next week as part of the festival.

The film documents the African AIDS pandemic through the friendship of two girls.  Margaret Quigley travels with a church group from Boston’s Old North Church to South Africa, where she meets 16-year-old Sine, orphaned when AIDS killed both her parents. In the KwaZulu Natal province, where fear and shame prevent dialogue about AIDS, young people like Sine break the silence through music, singing about a world where half the young adult population is dead or dying of the disease. 

Walker, the film’s writer and executive producer, felt it was important to make an AIDS documentary about teenage girls for a teenage audience because it is the age group most vulnerable to the disease. She and Poister hope that A Tale of Two Teens will be shown in classrooms in both the United States and South Africa, replacing outdated and inaccurate material.

To help accomplish this, Walker and Poister are partnering with the Center for HIV/AIDS Care and Research at Boston Medical Center. Together, they will develop a curriculum guide to accompany the film and an interactive Web site for teenagers. “The idea,” says Walker, “is to develop a two-class unit about AIDS for use in the freshman health class in high schools.” 

In addition to educating viewers about the disease, A Tale of Two Teens dispels some misconceptions regarding the African pandemic — for example, the belief of many Americans that AIDS in Africa has advanced the way it has simply because the people do not have access to anti-retroviral medications.
   
“AIDS is at holocaust levels in South Africa, and it has to do with much more than simply the availability of drugs,” Walker says. “More than 80 percent of South Africans remain untested. That has to do with poverty, displacement, the subordinate role of young women, and a lack of education, health care, government intervention, and enough people who care.” 

A Tale of Two Teens will be shown at AMC/Loews Boston Common, 175 Tremont St., on Friday, June 9, at 2:45 p.m., as part of the Boston International Film Festival. Admission is $10 and includes A Tale of Two Teens and the three other films of Session 7. Purchase tickets online at www.bifilmfestival.com or watch a preview of the film at its official site: www.ataleoftwoteens.org.