Interrogation of Documentary Film as a Tool for Advocacy for Positive Living with HIV/AIDS in Siaya County, Kenya.
Were, Benedict Wasiche
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Although there is sufficient knowledge on HIV/AIDS, the disease has continued to cause devastation in society. The larger Nyanza Region has recorded a high HIV/AIDS prevalence at 15.1% with Siaya County recording 21% HIV/AIDS prevalence. The deep-seated resentment of people living with HIV/AIDS has been perceived as a factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS which has been portrayed as a death sentence. Since documentaries play a key role in providing information to the public, this study interrogated the agency of documentary film in advocacy that highlights positive living with the virus. It interrogated three areas of documentary film making which included characterisation, documentary voice, imaging and depiction through cinematography, scripting and editing as well as the narrative styles which include structure, plot and dialogue. Being a qualitative study, it did obtain data through FGDs, in-depth interviews and content analysis. The researcher employed semiotics and reception theory in undertaking the study, and through these theories, eading of texts was made possible. It was thus established that every filmmaker has a message they intend to advance, either consciously or subconsciously as they entertain or inform. The study found that People Living with HIV AIDS (PLWHA) have been characterised as having poor health and living on the compassion of others. The study also established that PLWHA cannot be identified from their physical looks, and neither is death an absolute end to an infected person. The study observes herein that the documentary film production on HIV/AIDS, do impact on the perceived role of the films as vehicles for advocating for positive living through cinematic explorations. The study then concludes that filmmakers must not mislead the audiences by assigning a point of view that is biased and inclined to reflect negatively on certain people and places. Researchers and filmmakers will find this study useful as it may offer guidance on how to reimagine telling the story of PLWHA to the world through documentaries. The findings will also contribute to the body of knowledge on producing documentaries touching on PLWHA.