The Zimbabwean film More Time is a superb audio-visual resource for Africa and beyond
01 / 1999
Produced in 1993 by the Media for Development Trust and directed by Isaac Mabhikwa, the award-winning film "More Time" is "dedicated to teenagers and their parents working together to find ways to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. "
The story line of "More Time" is the following: Thandi (played by Prudence Katomeni)is a teenager, ready for anything and ripe for falling in love. She’s a girl flirting with womanhood, and the township beckons. But, she still has to find out the dangers when David, the schoolboy Mister Magic, coolly sweeps her off her feet. As her life spins out of control and temporarily beyond her parents’ reach, Thandi has to learn that playing with love may mean playing with her life. "More Time" is the story of what happens to a girl when she realizes that falling in love is not so simple. The danger of love is not just about unwanted pregnancies. In a time of AIDS, it is about life itself. And that means changing the way teenagers like Thandi think and feel about sex and sexuality.
"More Time" is a high-quality, well-acted 90-minute film. It is one of a very few films designed specifically as health-education tools that can be genuinely appreciated by the public at large simply for their entertainment value. Quite evidently, the artists in the "More Time" team are a mighty talented lot.
The same can certainly be said of the reproductive health specialists involved in the production of the film. The research and script design team did a masterful job of interweaving in an uncluttered fashion a vast range of urgently needed messages relevant to HIV/AIDS and to adolescent reproductive health in general. Among the topics addressed (this list is far from complete): unplanned pregnancy and the scholastic consequences, the "sugar daddy" phenemenon (i. e. , older men providing minors with material gifts in return for sex), the challenges of condom procurement, the role of alcohol and other drugs, the means of transmission of HIV, and the fact that HIV is an issue in both urban and rural settings. Although there are several moments in the film when it might logically have been mentioned, one topic is conspicuously missing from the film, namely HIV antibody testing. It could be that the research and script design team opted to omit the topic of testing due to limited accessibility of the test itself or difficulties pertaining to test confidentiality in various areas where the film was likely to be shown. For example, here it Senegal, testing is often prohibitively expensive, and it is extremely difficult to obtain a test in confidential fashion. "More Time" has been dubbed into French - - the title is "Du temps pour aimer" - - and is available in Francophone West Africa.
"More Time" provides important information and behavioral models with regard to solidarity and care for people affected by the epidemic. The film includes powerful expressions of compassion and supportive care (physical and emotional)for people living with HIV or AIDS, surviving family members, and individuals concerned that they might possibly be infected.
Another central theme of the film is the role of parents in ensuring their children’s safety in this day and AIDS. Thandi’s parents, each in their own way, express their love and concern to their daughter. The parents discuss matters among themselves, struggling to bridge gaps of comprehension resultant from their own rural upbringing and the modern, urban realities of their daughter. Most impressively, Thandi’s mother provides a wonderful example of a caring, committed, empathetic mom. After seeking out the advice of a friend, she gracefully and skilfully engages her daughter in a loving, to-the-point dialogue. "If you want to live, find a man you can love for life. "
In addition to her mother’s advice and support and her father’s gruff expressions of concern, Thandi benefits from a multitude of other human influences and personal experiences, each of which adds another piece of a complicated puzzle. One girlfriend pulls her from the clutches of a "sugar daddy" at a moment when Thandi had had too much to drink. Another educates her in condom procurement ("You should be more afraid of dying than buying")and drives home the point that, as a woman, she certainly has every right to assert herself in the face of sexual pressure and to ensure her own prevention from HIV. In her parents’ home village, Thandi experiences first-hand the physical and socio-economic destruction of AIDS.
In the end, Thandi manages to convince her eager boyfriend that he must respect her decision to wait a while, to think through things carefully and let them evolve in a careful fashion - - to take More Time with a veiw to being safe.
"More Time" is to be enthusiastically recommended to: anybody who enjoys a good movie ; members of the African stop-AIDS community who work with young people ; parents, especially those looking for ideas/inspiration as to how to talk with their teenage kids about sexuality and AIDS ; and to non-Africans, with a view to helping them to gain a better understanding of HIV and AIDS in Africa today.
"More Time" is distributed by DSR, Inc. , 6679-P Santa Barbara Road, Elkridge, MD 21075, USA. Tel (410)579-4508. Fax (410)579-8412. E-mail: dsr@dsr-inc. com.
The Media for Development Trust can be contacted at: P. O. Box 6755, Harare, Zimbabwe.
Media for Development Trust, More Time
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