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Series/Festivals

Week of December 10, 2003

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State of Denial (unrated) Elaine Epstein. The statistics concerning South Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic are staggering: 4.7 million infected (more than any other country in the world), with 2,000 new cases every day and a prediction of 7 million deaths by 2010. But numbers alone fail to convey the personal and communal tragedies with the same impact as producer-director Elaine Epstein's State of Denial. Epstein documents personal stories, scientific data, counterproductive political policy, pharmaceutical companies' greed and contributing social factors -- particularly the increase in migrant labor necessitated by past apartheid policies. President Thabo Mbeki's misguided public statements contrast with those of public advocacy groups and of former President Nelson Mandela, who championed subsidized treatment since anti-retrovirals are unaffordable for most South Africans. Since the production of State of Denial, South Africa's cabinet, in cooperation with four generic drug manufacturers, approved a national treatment program that will soon make low-cost antiretroviral therapy available to millions. For many in this film it will be too late, but Epstein's fine piece elucidates the desperate need for such a step. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 16, in the Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University, 470 E. Lockwood Avenue. Call 314-968-7487 for more information. (Diane Carson)

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