Movies about HIV/AIDS that celebrate the human spirit
Our 5 best HIV/AIDs movies do more than just create awareness of the dreaded HIV disease and the lives it affects. More than anything, these movies highlight the resilience and determination of the human spirit to survive against all odds. In turn, it questions society’s ability to offer compassion and hope to those affected by HIV.
This is one of the first Hollywood movies to talk about HIV/Aids. Tom Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a partner attorney at a top law firm. He's also gay and living with HIV. When his co-workers suspect his illness they devise a plan to fire him. Beckett decides to sue the law firm for such discrimination and he eventually convinces injury lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) to take his case. Miller is admittedly a homophobic, and at one point thinks he has contracted AIDS by just shaking Beckett’s hand. What follows is an amazing story of hope and triumph.
This Zulu feature film tells the story of a village woman named Yesterday, who is devastated when she learns her husband, a migrant mine worker, has infected her with HIV. At a loss, Yesterday begs a local school teacher to take her young daughter Beauty in when she dies. Leleti Khumalo gives a moving performance in the face of HIV discrimination from her fellow villagers and as an HIV positive mother, with a determined focus to live long enough to see her daughter in school.
It is 1987 and we meet Claireece Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a 16-year-old girl living in Harlem, New York. She can’t read or write. Her mother (Mo’Nique) beats her and mentally abuses her. Her father has fathered her two children. In an attempt to escape her spiral of abuse plus learning that her father has died of AIDS and that she is HIV positive, she finds help and kindness from her teacher, a nurse and social worker. Despite all she has been through, Precious learns to read and write and becomes determined to survive and make a better life for her and her two HIV-free children.
Live, Above All (2010)
This movie exposes the harsh realities of child-headed households. Set in a Johannesburg township, we meet 12-year-old Chanda who suddenly has to take charge of her younger siblings when her mother becomes sick with HIV. Chanda soon faces the gossip and disgust of nosy neighbours as well as new responsibilities before her time. Chanda’s only ally is Mrs Tafa who helps her take care of her siblings. Despite Mrs Tafa’s own prejudices, she still shows compassion to Chanda’s situation. Chanda in turn also shows care to her best friend, an AIDS orphan who lives on the streets selling her body for money.
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
This movie is based on the true life story of Texan cowboy Ron Woodroff (Matthew McConaughey), who was diagnosed with HIV in 1985 and given 30 days to live. In a quest to survive Ron discovers a drug combination containing the protein Peptide T that can help his HIV symptoms. However the drug is not available or approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration in the US. Ron, together with Rayon (Jared Leto), a HIV positive transvestite, set up the “Dallas Buyers Club”, a operation that imports the drug from Mexico to sell to HIV sufferers. McConaughey and Leto both won an Academy Award each for their superb acting skills in this movie.
You might need a tissue box on hand but most of all - be prepared to be inspired and moved by the human spirit.
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