My friend Sharon who just returned to Australia worked as a production coordinator here in Beijing for a documentary filmed here in China. She just found out that the film had won the Oscar for Short documentaries a few nights ago. The documentary had the backing and approval of the government which is an amazing feat in itself considering the subject matter. I asked Sharon how the flim makers ever got to the point of being allowed to film a topic that only a few years ago was considered forbidden to discuss in the media. She said, "we created public service messages announcements and warnings for the government on AIDS and slowly we began to have more access to the real story."

So congratulations to Sharon and to the two film makers for creating a very unique documentary on the side of China that few foreigners see or hear about that along the way won an Oscar.

Oh yea, part of the funding for the film came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

from Silverdocs:

"Extend your arm, bear the pain of a needle. Then flex your arm, 50 Yuan is earned."

This was one of many jingles created by blood banks in China, which rural people committed to memory. But due to unsafe practices, thousands of impoverished Chinese contract HIV and other diseases through contaminated blood, often leaving behind orphaned children to raise each other or depend on compassionate families for support.

Hong Kong-born filmmaker Ruby Yang and award-winning producer Thomas Lennon followed these orphans in the rural villages of Yingzhou District for one year. One of them, Gau Jun, was abandoned by his family and refuses to utter a word. He is a victim of social stigma and a government that has failed to support its citizens. Neighbors prevent their children from playing with him, and his own extended family rejects him, fearing their own children will be isolated.

THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU DISTRICT is a stunningly shot, sensitive portrait of a hidden AIDS epidemic in a country not commonly associated with the disease. The film follows Gau Jun silently as he becomes part of a family and is accepted for the first time as the beautiful, wondrous child that he is.

 

Youtube clip here

Wash. Post writeup here

  from the oscars.org

Best documentary short subject
The Blood of Yingzhou District
A Thomas Lennon Films Production
Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon
  Recycled Life
An Iwerks/Glad Production
Leslie Iwerks and Mike Glad
  Rehearsing a Dream
A Simon & Goodman Picture Company Production
Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
  Two Hands
A Crazy Boat Pictures Production
Nathaniel Kahn and Susan Rose Behr

Here is more information about the group and the various roles they play on getting public awareness of the problem in China

China Aids Media Project