Namibia: Feature Film Explores Realities of Safer Sex

Moving beyond simply advocating safer sex, the movie "Sex and Chocolate" explores the intersection of relationships, youth sexual networks, peer and societal pressures, gender equality, and self-preservation. Namibia's Legal Assistance Center (LAC) and the youth group Ombetja Yehinga Organization (OYO) produced the film.

"We talk a lot about HIV/AIDS, but we find it difficult to talk about the dynamics in relationships," said film and OYO director Philippe Talavera.

The film follows Lucy, a University of Namibia sophomore, who loves David but learns he is engaging in unprotected sex with other women, including an HIV-positive beauty queen. Lucy covets the monogamous relationship of David's friend Peter and his girlfriend, which balances the depiction of Namibian masculinity.

Lucy agonizes over choosing between love and her health, which, according to producer Dianne Hubbard, is not uncommon in women who feel powerless to demand condom use within their relationships.

According to the 2010 Sentinel Survey, similar risky behaviors have driven Namibia's HIV statistics up again following years of downturn. The survey reports Namibia's HIV prevalence rate rose from 17.8 percent in 2008 to 18.8 percent at present. Also, last year 1,493 pregnant students dropped out of high school.

El-Juanita Philander, who plays Lucy, notes that although the movie mirrors real-life situations, it also educates viewers about options. "It is important that young people make the right decision. There are always two choices in life," said Philander.

The movie takes that concept further by offering alternate endings. One shows Lucy severing the relationship and avoiding harm. In the other, presented in sobering black and white, Lucy remains with David, becomes depressed, flunks her finals and develops anxiety about her health.

A follow-up feature, "Teddy Bear Love," addresses high school relationships and will debut in June.