A Village Tale

Make Art Stop Aids community film project.

Credo tests HIV+ when a health team comes to the village. But how can she tell her husband, who is so terrified of getting tested he explodes in anger every time she brings the subject up?

A funny and poignant interactive film about the impact of HIV in a Malawian village.  Built around a performance in which an HIV positive group act out their experiences to an audience of their own community, the film is designed to force discussion about how to change attitudes towards HIV.  After a fight between families, the story ends with a court scene before village chiefs, in which the audience are pulled in as witnesses. But it becomes rapidly apparent that it is the negative attitudes of the community as a whole that are really on trial. The ensuing discussion focuses on what steps the community can take to make it easier for people to get tested and receive life saving treatment.

The project was developed by the Arts and Global Health Centre Africa, under the title “Make Art Stop Aids. Sharifa Abdulla, a drama professor and community organiser, spent a month with the drama group, exploring their experience of living with HIV and helping them to put the performance together.

Film screenings have been held in communities in southern Malawi, with audiences often 1500 strong. Local chiefs and representatives from the health centre all attend, using the film as a way of kick starting local health programs.

Follow up research suggests the main impact is to change what is acceptable within the community, as speaker after speaker demand that teasing, dirty comments, jokes and ostracising of those with HIV should not be tolerated. Many in the audience, who are hiding their status from family and friends, start to feel empowered. Others who have been too frightened to get tested, because their fear of ridicule is greater than their fear of HIV, take courage. (see the story of ____ below)

The project is a partnership between Arts and Global Health Centre (Africa), Dignitas International and Picturing Health.

A Village Tale (2015 – 64 mins)

This is the full film, as it is shown during screenings to audiences in Malawi. Here it is in Chichewa with English subtitles. This version does not include the community discussion, which usually lasts for several hours. Part one ends as the performance moves into community discussion.

A Village Tale: film about the film project  (2015 – 13 mins)

This is a short film which explains the story of the whole film project and gives an outline of the story told in the performance. It also has interviews with those behind the project and explores some of the impact in the communities were the film has been shown.

A Village Tale: part 1  (Chichewa)

The first part of the film tells most of the story, up until a dispute between families ends up before the village court. Facilitators then step in, pulling in the audience as witnesses. 

A Village Tale: part 2 (Chichewa)

This final scene is shown after the discussion. It provides a happy ending through HIV treatment.