Fourth Annual Festival


05:19 min
Director: Keefe Murren, Nelson Walker III and Lynn True
Producer: Keefe Murren and Nelson Walker III

Winner of the Health Advocacy Award
Sponsored by Sundance Channel


More About iThemba from the Producers, Keefe Murren and Nelson Walker III

The iThemba Film Project was formed in January 2003 when Bruce Walker, MD, Director of Partners AIDS Research Center (a collaborative partnership between Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital) commissioned us to document the Sinikithemba Choir’s journey to perform at the 10th Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston —  a premiere gathering of the world’s leading HIV/AIDS researchers. The Sinikithemba Choir is a singing group consisting of 30 HIV+ black South Africans who have made it their mission to promote global awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.

iThemba (hope) is a 7 minute version of a full-length documentary film being produced by the iThemba Film Project. The longer film is an intimate portrait of the Sinikithemba Choir and one of its leading members, Zinhle Thabethe (ZIN-kleh Tah-BEH-tay) a 26 year old HIV/AIDS counselor. The film was shot in Durban, South Africa and Boston, Massachusetts during February and March of 2003.

During filming, an anonymous donor offered each of the members of the Sinikithemba Choir access to Anti-retroviral medication, the only known treatment for AIDS. Four choir members were immediately placed on an ARV regimen. Since the original filming of iThemba, the Sinikithemba Choir has returned to the United States twice. On their most recent visit, Sinikithemba sang as part of the World AIDS Day Commemoration at St. John the Divine, honoring UN Secretary General Kofi Anan for his work in establishing the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Choir is planning to tour the United States again in the spring of 2004.

In August 2003, while iThemba was being edited, the South African government announced that it would develop a nationwide treatment plan that included anti-retroviral drugs (ARV). Our executive producer, Dr. Bruce Walker, traveled to South Africa as part of a delegation of advisors to aid the South African governments efforts to design such a program. In October 2003 the plan was unveiled by the Government. Sadly, as of completion of this short film, this much needed program had yet to be implemented.


Fourth Annual Media That Matters Film Festival, family & society, health / health advocacy, human rights, international
Creative Commons License: Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivative Works