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2005-09-04-Spike Lee speaks out for HIV help
Outspoken US director Spike Lee has used his contribution to the ensemble film All the Invisible Children to confront the prejudice and misunderstanding that continues to face people with HIV.
Eight directors, including Ridley Scott and John Woo, took part in the feature film, comprising seven shorts, which is showing out of competition at the Venice Film Festival.
All the Invisible Children forms part of a Unicef iniative to raise awareness of deprived children across the globe.
"I think the title is very significant - we are talking about children all over the world that don't have a voice," says Lee, arguably the foremost African-American director in the US today.
"Everybody has a unique vision, everybody comes from a different cultural background - that's the fresco that you get from a film like this."
Painful and powerful
Lee's film, written by his sister and brother, focuses on a Brooklyn teenager, Blanca, who discovers she is HIV positive, a fact her drug-addicted parents have hidden from her.
The hostility that follows, as her situation is made public, is at once painful and powerful to watch.
"I had been thinking a great deal about youngsters who have been born with HIV," says 48-year-old Lee.
"This is a global problem and I tried to imagine what it must be like for those children whose parents never told them.
"And what their day would be like when they discovered their illness.
"Children can be cruel. That's just part of growing up. If something sticks out - you're going to be a target. If you're HIV positive that just magnifies things."
But Lee believes the ignorance comes from adults, including those right at the top of society.
'A lot of ignorance'
"In the US, the richest, most so-called progressive country in the world, people think you can catch Aids if someone sneezes on you or touches you. There is still a lot of ignorance about HIV."
He believes society's unwillingness to confront the problem is comparable to medieval attitudes to the plague.
"We see Aids as a problem of Africans and homosexuals."
The end of Lee's film sees Blanca finding help and companionship at a therapy group for teenagers with HIV.
"I wanted to convey that there was light at the end of the tunnel," says Lee.
"But it's rough. Aids is killing us."