There are many stories about AIDS victims that the world would rather forget. The story of the children in rural Baan Gerda, however, is one of hope and optimism.
When American composer Bruce Gaston starts teaching them music, they embark on a project to put up an opera performance and thus begins their integration with non-infected children and society.
Living with the Tiger screens tomorrow, 22nd Sept, and is followed by a Q&A session with director Mike Thomas and one of the children featured in the documentary. Get your tix here. More details about the documentary below.
About Living with the Tiger
It’s almost beyond comprehension; being born with a deadly disease, losing both of your parents at an early age, and then being abandoned by your extended family. This was the dire situation that confronted a group of children from rural Thailand and featured in the new film ‘Living with the Tiger’
Instead of the depressing and predictable images often associated with HIV & AIDS, the film’s alternative approach shows an inspiring group of children that have been changing people’s attitudes both towards the disease and those who are infected.
The children live in a small village known as Baan Gerda, where they are loved and cared for in family-style homes. The upbeat atmosphere and their zest for life hides the suffering experienced in the early days.
The film focuses on two of the children as they take an emotional journey back to the families that had once left them to die at a hospice. Some of the family members are even shocked to see that the children are still alive. Will they be accepted or will fear lead to further rejection?
The story is framed by the children’s performance in a specially written opera, composed by American Bruce Gaston, and performed to audiences in Bangkok and the countryside. It shows their early attempts at playing musical instruments and acting, through to the finale and a major concert in Khon Kaen.
Although the children appear happy and healthy they are faced with another problem that threatens to destroy their lives; stigma and discrimination. The problem affects millions of HIV infected people around the world and the consequences can be as severe as the disease itself. People may lose their jobs, homes, friends and social status. They may be given sub-standard health care or at times refused care entirely.
The filmmakers hope to raise awareness of these issues and challenge the deep-rooted ideas that many people still hold. Director/Producer Mike Thomas and Susie Solomon from BCAS will take part in a post screening discussion. BCAS is a HIV and advocacy training organisation based in Singapore.
British Director Mike Thomas said “When you see the vitality of the children you know that they can make a contribution to society and they have a role to play. They should be given that opportunity. People need to understand that their fears are unfounded and the children pose no danger”
The film is part of the Singapore International Film Festival and will screen at the Shaw Lido (Theatre 5) on September 22nd at 9.30pm. Tickets are available from www. sistic.com.sg or by phoning the SISTIC hotline: 6348 5555.
Image taken from Living with The Tiger.