US Filmmakers Raise Awareness of China’s AIDS Orphans

2006 August 11  |  Beijing Today
By Han Manman
A series of public service campaigns on behalf of Chinese AIDS orphans produced by China AIDS Media Project in cooperation with China’s Ministry of Health and UNICEF, is soon to debut on Beijing’s buses, trains and public spaces. Chinese-American filmmaker Ruby Yang and producer Thomas Lennon are founders of the China AIDS Media Project, an international organization that aims to promote Chinese awareness of AIDS.
With the slogan ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS’, the campaign features Chinese folk singer Peng Liyuan and AIDS orphans from the remote villages of Yingzhou District in Anhui Province.
Yang and Lennon followed these orphans in the rural villages of Yingzhou District for one year. They also shot a documentary called The Blood of Yingzhou District that records the orphans’ lives. The film premiered on June 14 at the Silverdocs documentary festival in Silver Spring, where it won the coveted Grand Jury Prize. The documentary, 39 minutes in length, is designed to dispel unnecessary fears and promote greater acceptance of AIDS orphans, who often suffer rejection in their home villages and schools.
One of them, Gao Jun, was abandoned by his family and now refuses to utter a word. He is a victim of social stigma, neighbors prevent their children from playing with him and his own extended family rejects him, fearing their own children will be isolated. The documentary will be shown this December in Beijing.