JWR Articles: Film/DVD - The Lazarus Effect (Director: Lance Bangs) - January 11, 2011
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The Lazarus Effect

3.5 3.5
32 min.

Reviewed at the 2011 Palm Springs International Film Festival
The long road to health @“just” 40 cents per day

In its brief thirty-two minutes runtime, the plight of sub-Saharan Africa’s legion of HIV/AIDS community (estimated to be ~13,000,000 about one-third of whom are now receiving the health-giving, life-prolonging Antiviral drugs), the despair of certain death just a few years back is happily upgraded to cautious optimism.

Particularly telling are the before and after shots of the younger generation whose skeleton skeletal frames magically flesh out within a few weeks after beginning their two-pills-a-day regimen that has become such an important matter of life and breath.

It’s clear that director/cinematographer Lance Bangs has earned the trust of People Living With AIDS, allowing them to speak for themselves about the pains, sorrows and miraculous rebirth thanks to these viral-suppressing drugs. The best news is for HIV-positive pregnant women: strict adherence to the daily dosage dramatically increases the probability of AIDS-free offspring.

It’s hard not to smile as the music-loving people dance and sing when their fortunes begin to change (a zesty brass-infused band adds a distinctive sound to the production).

Still, 3,800 infected souls continue to perish daily. Of course, this purposely upbeat production is meant not only to put human faces to the scourge of the continent (second only to genocide and war in its desperate brutality) but also raise awareness and open wallets of Western viewers who—at this screening—were shamelessly encouraged to (a) support Product Red (HIV Awareness group), (b) get involved with aid organizations, and (c) spread the word.

As much progress as has been made, it’s still not a pretty picture (two patrons left the theatre when the raw physical images became too overwhelming to their sensitivities).

Let’s hope for a sequel that digs into the root causes of the slowed but far from stopped spread of the virus. Without a word on that vital subject of prevention here (and nary a condom in sight) the film loses some of its potential punch, leaving many to think, “Well then, so long as the pills are taken that problem is solved. Now, let’s work on the Middle East.” JWR

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Director - Lance Bangs
Cinematography - Lance Bangs
Editor - Kjerstin Rossi
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