Documentary on the Red Cross initiative to wipe out the disease measles in Africa

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Documentary on the Red Cross initiative to wipe out the disease measles in Africa

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2002 (USA)  »

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a spiritual journey into the hearts and minds of the people themselves. A spiritual journey into the hearts and minds of the African people.
3 August 2004 | by (Norwood, MA) – See all my reviews

When Jane Seymour was nominated by the American Red Cross to their celebrity cabinet and assigned the measles campaign in Africa, she didn't take the honor lightly; she determined to do more than just lend her name to the humanitarian initiative, she offered to go to Kenya personally to participate. She and her husband, director/ film maker James Keach, offered to make a documentary for the Red Cross of this experience, one that would chronicle not only Jane's experience but that of 8 Los Angeles School children as well, who were chosen by the couple to accompany them on this incredible journey. The result of this effort was 'Disease of the Wind', a critically acclaimed documentary that won two awards when it was shown at the Deep Ellum Film Festival in Dallas, including audience choice awards for Best Documentary, as well as the Lionel Rogosin award for 'excellence in execution and spirit for a film that serves to help impact the world in a positive way through its message.'

Disease of the Wind is not typical of its genre, it doesn't seek to leave the viewer with a sense of guilt but rather of hope. Without shrinking from the harsh reality of life in a place where so many children die from measles that in some areas "mothers don't even name their infants until the age of five," the film manages nevertheless to convey the image of a proud people who as Seymour notes in the film, 'are doing the best they can'.

Skillfully juxtaposing images of malnutritioned infants against those of laughing children celebrating the arrival of the Americans, Disease of the Wind seems almost a contradiction in itself. How one wonders can such joy exist amid such misery? Seymour herself wonders at this in the film as do the Los Angeles students. The answer she concludes, lies in the heart of the Kenyan people themselves- in 'Jackson' for instance, a young teen living with 12 other children in one room whose only goal in life is to finish his education. And in education, Seymour notes, lies the future and the hope of the African people.

Director James Keach (who also wrote the documentary) has crafted a film that not only educates but takes the viewer on an emotional roller-coaster ride. From the image of Jane Seymour in tears trying desperately to communicate with ' Grace', a young abandoned child stricken by the disease, to the smile on a young boy's face as he is handed a check to fulfill his life's dream, Disease of the Wind is more than a powerful documentary of the measles initiative in Africa, it is a spiritual journey into the hearts and minds of the people themselves.


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