Documentary and speech from writer/ director highlights AIDS in Africa

On the night of April 3, a crowd of students and faculty were stilled and silenced before an unforgettable documentary A Closer Walk. Taken away from anxiety about classes or relationships, they were exposed to the tragedy of AIDS in Africa.

For such a disturbing topic, the documentary was filmed with beautiful clarity. Simple and to the point, it revealed the destructive force of AIDS to millions of lives. It did so without exploiting the issue as a showpiece or compromising the authenticity of the crisis. But while the film was tasteful, it hammered its message home with intensity.

A Closer Walk featured interviews with ordinary people of Africa, who face the epidemic every day, including orphans, mothers and nurses. But it combined these interviews with big names, including the narration of Glenn Close and Will Smith, as well as interviews with U2's Bono and the Dalai Lama.

At the end of the film, when the lights came back on, the mood remained heavy. Viewers were welcomed to refreshments outside, literally to refresh themselves from the documentary's somber topic.

"It showed things in a different perspective," freshman Laura Jakubowski commented. "We have all the resources to help these people, but we don't," she said Jakubowski was most compelled by a segment from the film that featured an interview with Alivia Nantongo, a victim of AIDS who died at 21.

After the film, writer and director Robert Bilheimer spoke about his experiences creating A Closer Walk. He discussed the process of making the film, meeting the people involved, and the impact he hopes to make.

Events spreading the awareness of AIDS have been prominent throughout AIDS Awareness Month, especially with the newly recognized campus group, Face AIDS. This group has been active throughout the year, and sold hand-made pins outside of the documentary on Tuesday.