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The Unexpected and Forgotten Face of HIV/AIDS

[Atlanta, GA.] The face of HIV/AIDS during the revolution of Romania was not a famous basketball player like Magic Johnson, but that of a child.
As change swept the Soviet Union in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and revolution toppled the oppressive Romanian regime. In the years that followed, antiquated medical practices, extreme poverty and an unscreened blood supply led to a pediatric HIV/AIDS epidemic. Over 12,000 children in orphanages and state hospitals were infected. The compelling story of how some of those children survived, grew up, found love and overcame enormous odds is told in the documentary After the Fall: HIV Grows Up, screening June 4th at the Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago, Illinois as part of the first annual International Cultural Festival.
Film Director Fr3deR1ck Taylor shares the universal picture of how panic, fear and discrimination leave these children abandoned. “Discovering the courage of these young people, and meeting the people who cared for them when no one else would, was so inspiring.” Fr3deR1ck says. “Often we judge the surface. As a documentary filmmaker, it’s all about finding the unexpected and telling the hidden story.”
An independent film, After the Fall: HIV Grows Up chronicles the journey of three of the young ones who grow to be adults living with HIV in the ‘Japanese House’. Remarkably, Ashica, Mioara and Georgie develop a no tolerance attitude toward self-pity and live full lives. Pediatric Dr. Rodica Matusa was a real unsung hero in their survival and ability to flourish as adults. She was one of the few doctors willing to treat HIV/AIDS-infected children and is the founder of group homes for these forgotten kids.
“I was told that I must go to the special doctor [Matusa],” says Ashica, when she learned of her HIV status. “Oh God I am sick, and wondered if I am going to die.” The friends’ dreams are simple: they want to find a place in real society, including a job and independence. Unexpectedly, they find much more.
The film is told in the voices of Romanian citizens of the former USSR, and offers a universal lesson to anyone who has endured challenge or been marginalized. It is the narrative of young people hopeful for a normal life.
After the Fall: HIV Grows Up debuts 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, 2015 at the Black Ensemble Theater; 4450 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois. Tickets are just $10 and can be purchased online at http://www.blackensembletheater.org/the-international-cultural-festival. Attending media will receive complimentary pass with your RSVP here.

For more information, including interviews with Fr3deR1ck Taylor, film clips and photos, please contact Angelia Pressley at 404-671-7937.

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