A Closer Walk, Academy Award nominee Robert Bilheimer's film about the global AIDS epidemic, will be broadcast nationally on PBS August 31, 2006, at 9 pm EST/PST. The PBS airing marks the 80-minute documentary's US television debut.
Narrated by Glenn Close and Will Smith, A Closer Walk features cinematography by Richard D. Young, interviews with the Dalai Lama, Bono, and Kofi Annan, and musical contributions by Annie Lennox, the Neville Brothers, Eric Clapton, and Sade.
The Way the World Is
Filmed on four continents over a period of three years, A Closer Walk depicts the realities of global AIDS, and explores the relationship between health, dignity, and human rights.
"This is a story about the way the world is," says Ms. Close in the opening line of the film's narration. A Closer Walk's rendering of the world through the prism of AIDS takes the viewer to locations in the United States, Ukraine, Uganda, South Africa, India, and Haiti, and offers personal stories of children, women, and men around the world who are affected by the disease. Those caring or advocating for people living with AIDS are featured prominently in the film as well. They include Dr. Paul Farmer, of Partners In Health, India's Dr. Suniti Solomon, and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
Describing his approach to the film, director Robert Bilheimer said, "When I interviewed [UNAIDS Executive Director] Peter Piot early on, I was struck by his insight that 'AIDS is part of the human condition,' and that 'AIDS exists because we exist.' When Peter said that, I knew that A Closer Walk should indeed be a film about the way the world is, and that my colleagues and I would need to be in and of the world for a period of time to truly understand what AIDS is doing to us all."
A Ten-Year Project
Conceived in 1996 with the late Jonathan Mann -- widely regarded as the architect of the international response to global AIDS -- A Closer Walk took three years to develop, three years to make, and in 2007 will enter its fourth year of a steadily expanding distribution campaign.
"The whole point," says Bilheimer, "was to level the playing field in terms of what we all -- as a human family -- understand about AIDS. Making a film that would somehow engage people around the world on this issue was obviously a challenge on the creative side. But the equal challenge, on the distribution side, was to put the movie in front of, literally, hundreds of millions of people. We are going to achieve that this year."
Since its premiere at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2003, A Closer Walk has been broadcast nationally on South African television (SABC 1), and Canadian television (CBC). Agreements to air the film on CCTV (China), and Doordarshan (India), on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2006, are being finalized.
Featured at the Tribeca Film Festival, A Closer Walk has also screened at Lincoln Center in New York City, and at regional premieres in Kansas City, Boston, San Francisco, and Miami. The United Nations and other agencies have sponsored premieres and distribution programs in Ukraine, India, South Africa, Cambodia, and Thailand.
The film has been shown at hundreds of schools and college campuses around the world, and been used as a primary education and awareness tool by advocacy groups, corporations, the United Nations, the US State Department, and prominent AIDS organizations including amfAR, The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and South Africa's Treatment Access Campaign. The Oprah Winfrey Show featured excerpts from A Closer Walk on World AIDS Day broadcasts in 2004 and 2005.
The PBS broadcast of A Closer Walk is sponsored by General Motors and HSBC. Principal production funding for the film was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, General Motors, Eastman Kodak, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Edgebrook Foundation. The film is directed by Robert Bilheimer.
Press Contact: Susan Senk PR at 212-206-8974 SusanSenkPR@aol.com. Or Heidi Ostertag/Worldwide Documentaries at 585-657-5400.
For Photos: www.acloserwalk.org download media images.