During the 1980s the AIDS epidemic sprung up. Everyone was frightened. Misinformation flew about and was a numerous as snowflakes in a winter storm. People were dying. Soon scientists began working on a cure (not fast enough, though), medecine to treat HIV positive people came out, those afflicted were given the chance to live novrmal lives, and much of the nonsense about it was dispelled. Still almost 40 years later AIDS and HIV are things we still have to deal with because a cure has not been found.
Africans and those in the so-called developing world are those most affected today by AIDS and HIV. Zambia is probably the worst of the lot. It is a country of roughly 17 million people where more than 1.2 million are HIV positve or have AIDS. Films like this continue to be made and people like Zambian-born and Danish raised musician Thomas Muchimba Buttenschon, who was born HIV positive, have to fight the fight to educate in country’s like Zambia. This film gives a picture of Thomas’ life, the death of his parents from AIDS, his career as a musician, his work with other musicians from Zambia, and his compulsion to use music to save people.
Music is a powerful thing. It is a form of art which is almost everywhere and connects with almost everyone. No matter age, race, religion, social economic status or ethnicity. It is in schools, churches, movies, concert halls, clubs, and homes. To get to people you have to use music. Music has a lot of power if musicians use it wisely. Music unites people and speaks every language. If you want information to get out music is a great vehicle. That is what Thomas believes, anyway.
In Zambia, despite the overwhelming number of people afflicted with HIV or AIDS, there is a lack of education about the disease. Because of the stigma surrounding it, those living with HIV are often silent. The disease will keep claiming new victims as no prevention is practiced and people have a fear of being tested. They would rather not know. Thomas has decided enough is enough and is stepping in to try to change that.
Thomas’ mother was Zambian and his father Danish. She did not tell anyone she had HIV. They both died of AIDS when he was less than 10-years-old. Their son does not remember much about them. He was born HIV positive, but because of the medication has managed to live a very normal life for more than 30 years. Thomas is married and has two kids, neither his wife or kids have contracted the disease.
Tyler Q Rosen’s film screened at Slamdance as a work in progress and now, at CPH:DOX, it is the finished product. A film with a message and a purpose. An important purpose – to save lives. And to show many about the power of music.