Directed by Lance Bangs and executive produced by Spike Jonze and Susan Smith Ellis, The Lazarus Effect documents the transformative effects that ARVs can have on people, their families and their communities when treatment is accessible. The film traces the experience of Constance (Connie) Mudena, who lost all three of her children to AIDS before treatment was accessible. When she and her husband both tested positive for HIV, treatment was not readily available and at the end of each
month they had to choose between buying life-saving medicine, paying the rent or buying food with their meager income. Constance eventually heard about a clinic that was making free drugs available. She was one of the first people to be enrolled at the clinic where she is now a HIV Peer Education Supervisor.

The Lazarus Effect shows people at the beginning of their treatment when they are gravely ill, returning a few months later to follow their progression to health."(RED), Spike and I went into this film wanting the people in it to tell their own stories" says director Lance Bangs. This film is a hopeful one, yet a reminder that almost 4,000 people still die every day from AIDS in Africa because not all people who need access to the treatment have it."

The Lazarus Effect is the center of a multi-media campaign by (RED) to raise awareness of the impact of large-scale AIDS programs at work in sub-Saharan Africa and the life-restoring effect of ARV medicine now available to HIV-positive people for around 40 cents a day. Thanks to public health organizations like the Global Fund and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), funding for ARVs is being provided to millions of people in Africa. In addition to funding, these organizations are educating people on how they can stay healthy and protect themselves from contracting and spreading the HIV virus.

(RED), the largest business sector funder of the Global Fund, supported the production of the documentary to show the impact that effective, targeted aid is having in the fight against the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Says Sheila Roche, Head of Global Communications, (RED), and one of the producers of The Lazarus Effect, "(RED) felt it was important to tell the story and share with the rest of the world the tremendous effect that providing access to life-saving treatment is having on the lives of real people and their communities throughout Africa. This is an area where big and real results are happening, for very little money. The cost of life-saving ARV medication is now 40 cents per day and we have to maintain investment in order to ensure that millions more people don't die needlessly from this preventable and treatable disease."

Bangs and Spike Jonze co-directed "Tell Them Anything You Want," the 2009 HBO documentary about Maurice Sendak. Bangs has also documented the making of Jonze's feature films "Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation" and "Where the Wild Things Are," as well as directing music videos for R.E.M., Green Day, Belle & Sebastian and Arcade Fire. He has also produced and directed award-winning DVDs for such artists as Nirvana, Sonic Youth and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The Lazarus Effect is an HBO Documentary Films production in association with (RED) and Anonymous Content; directed and filmed by Lance Bangs; producers, Sheila Roche, Daniele Peretz and Steve Golin; executive producers, Spike Jonze and Susan Smith Ellis; editor, Kjerstin Rossi. For HBO: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.

August 27, 2010

(RED) is very sorry to announce that Bwalya Liteta, who features in The Lazarus Effect film, passed away on August 14, 2010 at the age of 12, three months after the premiere of the film. She had been battling complications from AIDS and ultimately died from heart failure.

Bwalya was an HIV positive child who had lost both her parents. (RED) first met Bwalya in May 2009 and filmed her recovery from near death to robust health with the help of ARVs. Everyone who met her was inspired by her quiet determination, and delighted in her progress and the way she lit up over the fact that she was now top of her school and back playing her favorite games with her friends.

Nearly half a million children will be born with HIV this year – but with increased investments and the right policies, it’s possible that we could have a world where virtually no child is born with HIV by 2015. Many organizations including (RED), the Global Fund, ONE and the Gates Foundation are focused on making this promise a reality.

Bwalya’s death is a tragic loss for all those who knew and loved her. We send our deepest sympathy to her family and the medical staff who cared for her.

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