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MAC AIDS Fund Teams Up With Andrew Jenks for doc, interview

By April Neale Dec 9, 2013, 9:09 GMT

MAC AIDS Fund Teams Up With Andrew Jenks for doc, interview

Film to Bring HIV/AIDS Epidemic to the Forefront Through Personal, Authentic Stories of Young People Living With or Affected by the Disease Around the World

Film to Bring HIV/AIDS Epidemic to the Forefront Through Personal, Authentic Stories of Young People Living With or Affected by the Disease Around the World

The MAC AIDS Fund, the heart and soul of MAC Cosmetics, announced a partnership with filmmaker Andrew Jenks to develop a feature length documentary about personal stories of young people from around the world whose lives are affected by HIV/AIDS.

Principle photography is underway, with filming in South Africa, the Caribbean, India and the United States.

"To end this epidemic, we need to educate a generation that has grown up with HIV/AIDS and in many cases has grown complacent with it," said Nancy Mahon, global executive director, MAC AIDS Fund. "This film aims to break through the noise, the stigma and the misinformation with an honest portrayal of young people living with or affected by the disease in a raw manner that leaves an impression on us all."

The film is slated for a fall 2014 release, with distribution discussions beginning in the spring. This project is the latest example of the MAC AIDS Fund's focus on education and financing critically acclaimed content related to HIV/AIDS, including 2012 Academy award nominee How to Survive a Plague and Deep South.

Andrew Jenks has emerged as one of the most unique and credible voices in documentary filmmaking in recent years, with his projects earning millions of viewers and critical praise from HBO, ESPN and MTV.

The filmmaker has told the stories of multiple people whose lives have been impacted by health issues, including cancer, autism and substance abuse.

"Even with the massive amounts of healthcare news and coverage from mainstream media, the HIV/AIDS epidemic receives almost no coverage, marginalized to an alarming degree considering the millions of lives at stake," said documentary filmmaker, Andrew Jenks. "I hope our film can contribute to bringing HIV/AIDS back to the national health agenda while educating as many people -- young and old -- about the true nature of this issue."

The partnership news comes as the MAC AIDS Fund -- the largest corporate funder of HIV/AIDS programs -- is publically committing to a 40 percent increase in funding to HIV/AIDS organizations around the world in 2014 resulting in a total of almost $42 million for the upcoming year. Grant priorities in 2014 will be in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention, lifesaving treatment and care and retention in care with a keen focus on youth-oriented programming.

The MAC AIDS Fund, the heart and soul of MAC Cosmetics, was established in 1994 to support men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS globally. MAF is a pioneer in HIV/AIDS funding, providing financial support to organizations working with underserved regions and populations. Recently recognized by Funders Concerned About AIDS as the top corporate giver in the arena and the number one philanthropic funder of domestic U.S. HIV/AIDS work, MAF is committed to addressing the link between poverty and HIV/AIDS by supporting diverse organizations around the world that provide a wide range of services to people living with HIV/AIDS. To date, MAF has raised more than $300 million (U.S.) exclusively through the sale of MAC's VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipglass donating 100 percent of the sale price to fight HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit www.macaidsfund.org.

Monsters and Critics: Why AIDS? Why did you chose this particular issue?

Andrew Jenks: There is plenty of mainstream entertainment that focus’ on famous people, wanna be famous people, Desperate Housewives, etc. There is a reason those are on air – people watch them. I am trying – and it’s really hard – to bring topics to mainstream movies/TV that could use real attention (not just the wives of former basketball players) so that people can rally and help.

That sounds awfully earnest, and taking myself very seriously, but whatever, I am okay with that.

M&C: What is your hope for the outcome of this documentary – will there be a call to action for viewers to respond and get involved either by deed or money?

Jenks: This is entertainment. I think the word “documentary” is so incredibly stale because so many look at docs as educational tools, historical pieces, etc. If I do my job, the call to action will be for everyone to get involved in ways that I can’t imagine.

The MAC AIDS Fund is making this project happen, and though they aren’t featured in the film, I do hope that we raise awareness to the VIVA GLAM cause as it’s an incredibly simple and powerful way for people to get involved with HIV/AIDS and know their dollars are going to a good place.

In the end, the most important thing is to get HIV/AIDS back into the light and into the open, building a conversation that simply isn’t happening right now. And so whether they donate, get tested, start an incubator or just have conversations at a bar about it, I just want people to care about AIDS, and to know that it matters.

M&C: How has AIDS affected you personally? Have you lost anyone close to you?

Jenks: No. And this journey is changing that.

M&C: Do you think people are more complacent about AIDS today?

Jenks: When a basketball team is winning in the beginning of the fourth quarter, the coach sits everyone down and says, “Now it’s time to smash their heads. Put a knife in them. End the game.” And the team reacts off of that energy.

I think HIV/AIDS is in the fourth quarter and the team has started to think of the next game. The next game is important. But it’s time to finish this one off. With the right resources, AIDS can come close to being eradicated.

M&C: With the youth focus of the film, what is the best thing about your generation and what is the worst thing, in your opinion?

Jenks: The best and worst is that many of us are self-oriented. I made a HBO movie called “Andrew Jenks, Room 335,” a TV show called “World of Jenks,” a book called “Andrew Jenks: My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker” – even right there, I just ran through my resume. Maybe that seems like I love myself – that I am obsessed with myself.

But for a generation in which nobody has any idea where the world will be in 5 years, it’s important to make sure people know what you stand for, and what you want to accomplish – just exactly who you are. There is more talent, and more access to this talent than ever before.

This is also more information, and more platforms to use this information than ever before. Since many of us are living in such a world, and since we are ambitious, this self-oriented mentality is sometimes necessary. It has nothing to do with whether or not we want to make this world a better place. Determined but humble. And with that mentality, a lot can be done.



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