On May 24th, "The Lazarus Effect" by director Lance Bangs and executive producer Spike Jonze premieres on HBO, YouTube and Channel 4 (UK).
The 30 minute film illustrates the transformative effect of life-saving antiretroviral medicine through the stories of four HIV+ people in Zambia - Connie, Paul, Constance and Bwalya. By taking the ARV medicine – 2 life-saving pills that cost around 40 cents a day – in as few as 40 days, the medicine can help bring people back to life.
HIV/AIDS is a preventable and treatable disease yet it has killed more than 20 million people in Africa. In 2002 only 50,000 people had access to the medication due to its high cost.
Today, thanks to reduced costs and increased access, more than 3 million people in Africa are now receiving treatment. Still, 3,800 people die every day in sub-Saharan Africa from AIDS. “The Lazarus Effect” film shows that this needn't be the case.
The director in an interview (here) tell us:
"After all the relief efforts around the world that have had problems with mismanagement, corruption, graft, or ineffectiveness over the years it is tremendous to see something that works"
"The Lazarus Effect focuses on the dramatic successes that many people are experiencing as a result of the progress made the past few years distributing ARV medication across several countries in Africa. You meet people while they are ill, but then watch them regain straight, health, and vitality over the course of the film."
As a result the film is less grim, and perhaps more startlingly vibrant than what the viewer might have seen in earlier films that were highlighting the massive losses that the pandemic has wrought.
Additionally, the film is structured to present patients speaking for themselves rather than being commented on by outside overseers or narrators."