Rory Kennedy

Pandemic: Facing AIDS

World AIDS Day

Monday, December 3, 2007
7:00 p.m. – Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium

The scope of the global AIDS epidemic is staggering. Over the last 20 years, the disease has killed nearly 22 million people. Behind these statistics are the stories of millions of people, each of whom must face the challenge of AIDS in their own way. Rory Kennedy followed the lives of five people living with AIDS in different parts of the world–India, Russian, Thailand, Uganda and Brazil. Their experiences put faces behind the numbers, and connect audiences with the heartache and triumph of living under the extreme conditions that AIDS involves.
Co-sponsored by the Intrafraternity Council, Panhellenic, Student Activities, Dean of Students, Student Senate, The Zatae Longsdorff Women’s Center, Community Studies, Sociology, Institutional and Diversity Initiatives and Learning Communities Program, Health and Wellness Committee and MOB.

Issue in Context
AIDS is one of the most destructive epidemics in history. UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program for AIDS, estimates that there are currently 33.2 million people worldwide living with HIV. This figure has greatly increased over the past two years. The most striking increases have occurred in East Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 63 percent of the world’s HIV cases, continues to carry the weight of the global AIDS epidemic. Experts predict that in ten years, 112 million people may be HIV-positive, in spite of the international community’s capacity to prevent its transmission.
World AIDS Day is celebrated on December 1 each year. World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programs for AIDS Prevention. Until 2004, UNAIDS was responsible for the World AIDS campaign. In 2005 this responsibility was turned over to World AIDS Campaign (WAC), who chose “Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise” as the main theme, in addition to more specific annual sub-themes. “Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise” is a demand for governments and policymakers to “keep the promise” in meeting the targets they have agreed to in the fight against AIDS. “Leadership” is the subtheme for the 2007 and 2008 World AIDS Days, which builds upon the 2006 theme of “accountability.”

“Young people…have a vital role to play in the fight against the pandemic. Youth leadership is essential to an effective international response to HIV/AIDS and young people must be empowered with the knowledge, skills and resources they need in order to achieve the goal of universal access (to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support) by 2010.”
– Prateek Suman, Youth Coalition

“The global HIV/AIDS epidemic is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented response. It requires solidarity – between the healthy and the sick, between rich and poor, and above all, between richer and poorer nations. We have 30 million orphans already. How many more do we have to get, to wake up?”
– Kofi Annan

About the SpeakerRory Kennedy
Rory Kennedy is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer and writer. She graduated from Brown University in 1991 with a B.A. in women’s studies. In 1998 she co-founded Moxie Firecracker Films, an independent documentary production company. Kennedy specializes in documentaries that highlight pressing social issues such as human rights, domestic abuse, poverty, drug addiction, the Abu Ghraib prison, and the global AIDS crisis. Her most famous documentaries have been American Hollow (1999), Epidemic Africa (1999), The Changing Face of Beauty (2000), America Undercover: “A Boy’s Life,” (1999), The Execution of Wanda Jean (2002), Pandemic: Facing AIDS (2003), Indian Point: Imagining the Unimaginable (2004) and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (2007).
Pandemic: Facing Aids (2003), narrated by Elton John and produced by Rory Kennedy, is a five-part documentary series with a cross-cultural perspective on AIDS that connects individual stories from different areas of the world. The film follows the lives of five people in Uganda, India, Brazil, Thailand and Russia, exposing the heartaches and triumphs of living with AIDS. Pandemic: Facing AIDS was produced by Moxie Firecracker Films, HBO, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It premiered at the Barcelona World AIDS conference on July 8, 2002.
Her latest film, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, was the 2007 Emmy Award Winning documentary. The film examines the abuses of US soldiers at Iraqi prisons in 2003, and explores the reactions of American society, military and government. It premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
Kennedy is also on the board of directors for a number of non-profit organizations, including the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, the Legal Action Center and the Project Return Foundation. She was a member of the 1999 Presidential Mission on AIDS in Africa, and developed the Teacher Transfer Program between the US and Namibia after her work at the Dobra Resettlement Camp. Kennedy was a member of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Human Rights delegations during human rights trips to South Africa, South Korea, Japan, South Africa, El Salvador and Poland.

Related Links
World AIDS Campaign:
Avert, International Charity:
Moxie FireCracker Films, Rory Kennedy’s Film Production Company: