Brownsville filmmaker’s film to be screened for World AIDS Day

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In Dolissa Medina and Ananias P. Sorias video, Viejito/Enfermito/Grito (Old Man/Sick Man/Shout), Ananias performs the folkloric Danza de los Viejitos (the Dance of the Old Men). Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, where the dance originates, Ananias interprets its movements through the lens of his spirituality, his long-term HIV-related disabilities, and his search for a place in the world. (Courtesy: Visual AIDS)

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, the Valley AIDS Council is collaborating with Brownsville filmmaker Dolissa Medina and contemporary arts organization Visual AIDS to screen the annual “Day With(out) Art” film.

The free screening will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at the George Ramirez Performing Arts Academy, located at 543 E. 11th St. in Brownsville.

Observed every year on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day is a global movement aiming to unite people in the fight against HIV and AIDS while also showing solidarity against the stigma and honoring the lives lost and affected by the epidemic.

This year’s theme is “World AIDS Day 35: Remember and Commit” to pay tribute to those lost to HIV/AIDS as the day marks its 35th commemoration.

Saturday’s event will feature the screening of “Day With(out) Art 2023: Everyone I Know Is Sick,” which includes five short films from artists across the world that generate connections between HIV and other forms of illness and disability. 

Alongside Medina, the other artists included are Dorothy Cheung of Hong Kong, Hiura Fernandes and Lili Nascimento from Brazil, Beau Gomez from Canada/Philippines and Ananias P. Soria and Kurt Weston from the U.S. 

In “Viejito/Enfermito/Grito (Old Man/Sick Man/Shout),” Medina’s film features Soria, a San Francisco Bay Area artist and immigrant, performing the folkloric Danza de los Viejitos (the Dance of the Old Men); the dance originates from Michoacán, Mexico. Soria interprets the movements through the lens of his spirituality, his long-term HIV-related disabilities and his search for a place in the world.

“I’m proud to be working with VAC for this hometown premiere of my film and the Day With(out) Art video program for World AIDS Day,” Medina said in the release.

Hiura Fernandes and Lili Nascimentos video That Child with AID$ tells the story of Brazilian advocate and artist Lili Nascimento, who was born with HIV in 1990. Lili has worked to expand narratives about living with HIV beyond the limited images and ideologies that permeate the AIDS industry. (Film still)

“I think that the theme this year — ‘remember and commit’ — could not be more appropriate for this project, which is inspired by my memories of the AIDS crisis, as well as my commitment to using my art to help our communities stay healthy in Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley.”

VAC, Medina and local advocates will hold a Q&A following the screening. 

In the release, VAC notes that they’ve seen a rise in new infections locally, particularly among some Hispanic populations — MSM and older adults. VAC continues to note that while there’s an urgent need to expand access to HIV prevention and treatment, there has been funding reductions.

“Fear and HIV stigma is more deadly than HIV itself. Fear and misinformation keep people from being tested,” VAC stated in the release. “Fear and misinformation keep people from coming to their medical appointments for treatment. Fear and misinformation keep people isolated and alone.”