About this project
They Go to Die is a documentary film-in-progress that surfaces issues of health, human rights, and legal complexities of TB and HIV in the gold mining industry of South Africa nonlinearly though the context of life, love, and family.
It follows four men that were sent home due to contracting TB in the mines and left with no access to medication. Though the men in the film that did not have access to care eventually succumbed to their illnesses and passed away, the film does not focus on their death, but rather the life that this process (termed 'sending them home to die') has taken away. They Go to Die is ultimately a story of humanity – a celebration of family and the power of relationships. Find out more atwww.theygotodie-movie.com
Funding from the Kickstarter campaign will go towards completing the rough-cut version of the film and allow for us to most urgently used to screen the film at an important meeting of decision makers and mining sector CEOs in Africa on TB and Mining later this year. We will be able to directly show the decision makers the face of their health decisions, but we can't do it unless our goal is reached.
*Note: We couldn't make a kickstarter-specific video because I cant afford it! Hopefully the general-funding video above will do.
If youre like me I know you won't read anything I write below, but at least watch Clint Smith's award winning poetry written for the film They Go to Die:
A Little About the Film and its Importance
This is the worst health epidemic facing the world today. There is a massive population of men oscillating back and forth, bringing these deadly diseases to areas that can't access basic medication. Each year, thousands of men working in the gold mines of South Africa become infected with TB and HIV. Directly due to these illnesses, they are deemed 'unfit to work;' a legal loophole that allows these men to be sent home with no continuation of care. 'Home' is often to remote areas of Africa that have little or no access to care; they become lost in the shadows. This process is actually referred to by leading health officials as, 'sending them home to die.' Yet virtually nothing has been done to stop it. The film follows the lives of four of these mineworkers home from the mine.
A death from TB and/or HIV isnt pretty. Its slow, painful. But even though it is a film raising concerns of disease and human rights violations, They Go to Die surfaces issues of health, human rights, and legal complexities nonlinearly though the context of life, love, and family; unlike traditional health films, it uniquely focuses almost entirely on relationships and family, not death and disease. It is a film of bonding across cultures and paints a portrait of common humanity.
A(nother) quick message from the director
I dont exactly know what to write to start this thing off, this has been my entire life for almost two years. Up until now I was always in a lab, quietly researching things like cell signaling pathways and genetic expression. My name is Jonathan Smith, I graduated with a Masters from Yale University where I researched TB and HIV coinfection in the gold mining industry of South Africa. Now I live out of my car, exhausted my entire life savings, and worked two part time jobs to fund the production of a film focusing on four mineworkers who graciously allowed me to live with them and their families for several weeks. And now, with a burgeoning groundswell of support from non-profit organizations, government agencies, and individuals, we need your help in finishing the film. And we need it quick: a meeting bringing together the heads of the South African mining industries, government ministries, and unions is happening in late 2011 and we have the opportunity to show these personal stories to those who need to see it most: the decision makers.
These men were my friends. With open arms they invited me into their families and lives to understand them as people, not patients. They died of a preventable, curable disease because of a cycle of disease that continues to permeate through all of southern Africa. The goal of this film is to stop that cycle. But I need your help - its illogical to think anyone could do that on their own.
Why this film isn't a 'health movie'
The filmis an effort to seek change in the face of the TB/HIV epidemic in southern Africa, as well as address serious violations of human rights. Despite its forbidding topic, the film seeks to create an emotionally positive experience that allows viewers to bond with the characters and draw their own conclusions based on the information and personal journeys that the film conveys.
Quite frankly, simply portraying an epidemic through the lens of a camera has been done before and continues to have limited effectiveness, even when those affected are the ones telling their personal stories. That is because there is no real connection, we are just regurgitating information.
But if we turn an epidemic into an emotion, then we motivate change.
They Go to Die takes a different approach and explores the epidemics in the broader context of human life, instead of through only a narrow context of their disease. It portrays the life of the individual as a whole, not solely the disease by which they are affected. It surfaces issues of health, human rights, and legal issues in the form of human relationships. In doing so, the film creates both a cathartic and informational experience.
With your support, we will be able to complete post–production and offer the film to a wide public audience, placing this issue directly in the hands and tongues of civil society and policymakers.
For more detailed information about the film, please click here.
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