________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 18 . . . . April 27, 2007


The Bicycle: Fighting AIDS With Community Medicine.

Katerina Cizek (Writer & Director). Gerry Flahive (Producer). Silva Basmajian (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2006.
16 min., 31 sec., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9106 219.

Subject Headings:
AIDS (Disease)-Africa.
Documentary films.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

*** /4

In only 13 minutes, this National Film Board DVD presents vivid and up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic in Zomba, Malawi, and the efforts of Canada's Dignitas International to fight the pandemic.

     The AIDS sufferers are seen through the eyes of Pax, a volunteer who bicycles from village to village, some 20 kilometres per day, to monitor patients and provide education, counselling and simply a happy, helpful and friendly face. He truly lives up to his 'peaceful' name! The sufferers whom he visits are survivors who are undergoing treatment with affordable and extremely effective ARVs or Anti Retro-Viral drugs.

     The DVD also showcases the Dignitas clinic and its staff. It is from this central point that the grass-roots program is run and monitored. To be cost-efficient and sustainable, the physicians know that any health care model must find and use existing structures and rely on community based care. This combination of local understanding and international medical knowledge is what will eventually win the war against AIDS in Africa.

     The DVD is powerful and compelling, with many shots of the countryside, Pax on his bicycle, and the people he visits as well as brief clips of various Dignitas personnel. Occasional subtitles make some conversations easier to understand. From time to time, hard-hitting facts are presented with bold white lettering on black screens to emphasize their importance.

     If this DVD has a downfall, it is that its length of just 13 minutes, plus another 3 ½-minute clip intended for use as a public service announcement, doesn't begin to present all the information and background one would like to have about the African AIDS epidemic. Conversely, this could be an attribute, as the DVD is short enough to be watched in its entirety while still leaving ample time for discussion within an average class period or at a meeting of concerned adults.


Ann Ketcheson, who lives in Ottawa, ON, is a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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