Chronicling Nkosi's Legacy

Chronicling Nkosi's Legacy

BC student produces film on young AIDS victim's struggle

By Kathleen Sullivan
Staff Writer

A documentary by a Boston College film student that depicts the devastating effects of AIDS in South Africa, and the hope inspired by an outspoken child with AIDS, will be screened on campus later this month.

David LaMattina (right), writer and director of the film "Nkosi's Legacy," with co-producers Nick Bowen (center) and Simon Kay in the lobby of the Brattle Theater, where the documentary had its world premiere this past Monday. A poster for the film is on the wall.
"Dying to Save His Generation: Nkosi's Legacy," which was written, directed, edited and co-produced by David LaMattina '03, is the first student-produced project from the University's Jacques Salmanowitz Program for Moral Courage in Film. The documentary's world premiere took place this past Sunday at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.

At press time, the date, time and location for the BC screening were not yet confirmed. Details will be posted on the BCInfo Web page.

"Nkosi's Legacy" focuses on three women with HIV/AIDS and their children who live in Nkosi's Haven, a home outside of Johannesburg where impoverished women infected with HIV/AIDS can live together with their children. Nkosi's Haven was established in honor of child AIDS activist Nkosi Johnson, who was born with HIV, developed AIDS by age two, and died in 2001 at age 12.

Johnson and his foster mother fought to change policies that discriminated against people with HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Johnson captured worldwide attention when, at age 11, he addressed the 13th International AIDS Conference and spoke about his experiences with HIV/AIDS and issues surrounding AIDS in South Africa.

LaMattina traveled to South Africa during spring break this year to film the 45-minute documentary. He was joined on the shoot by co-producers Nick Bowen and Simon Kay, whom LaMattina had befriended the previous summer while attending a film program in London.

"'Nkosi's Legacy' probes the ruins that AIDS has made of South Africa and finds survivors whose hope is insurmountable," said LaMattina, a communication major and film studies minor from Ledyard, Conn.

"At Nkosi's Haven, these people - black and white - have bonded and together are fighting AIDS. These mothers are hopeful, not so much for a cure, but for a better life for themselves while they are sick and for better lives for their children. They are educating their children about HIV/AIDS."

Prof. John Michalczyk (Fine Arts), director of the Salmanowitz Program and the film's executive producer, said, "David's documentary on the young Nkosi's legacy to those beset by the AIDS epidemic is a powerful tribute to the forces at work in South Africa.

"We often think that, with the crumbling of apartheid and the ground-breaking work of Nelson Mandela, all is well there. David's film reveals that there is much more work to be done, and in the case of AIDS, Nkosi is an icon of hope."

A private screening of the film is scheduled on Oct. 15 for Elisabeth Salina Amorini, a benefactor of the Salmanowitz Program, which assists aspiring filmmakers interested in producing films devoted to issues of moral courage, human rights and social justice. First established at George Washington University in 1999, the program - named for a Swiss businessman who in World War II helped bring to safety persons trapped behind German lines - moved to BC in 2001.


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