This past November, we announced the winners of our ViewChange Online Film contest - a competition to find stories of progress in tackling the UN Millennium Development Goals around the world. Our winners represented the best diversity of themes and styles we could have asked for: an animation about female empowerment, a music video about recycling, a comedy about HIV awareness, and much more. And now that the contest is complete, we've seen our winners receive some much-deserved viewership and press. Most recently, each of the six winners was invited by the Huffington Post to write about their filmmaking experience. What inspired them to pick up a camera? What issues were they trying to tackle?
Robby Bresson is a filmmaker in Kenya and the head of the production company X Media. He became very interested in the role that witch doctors play in many African cultures, and in the interplay between witchcraft and modern medicine. In East Africa, says Bresson, witch doctors can employ some bizarre and violent practices to treat illnesses like HIV. In his January 4th Huffington Post article, Bresson writes,
"One of the stories [that an earlier show we produced] highlighted was on the plight of albinos in East Africa who are being killed for the alleged medicinal properties their body parts posses. Our belief as Africans in witchcraft and those that practice it was clearly the sole motivation for these hideous crimes. We began a heated debate on the merits and demerits of witchcraft. Does witchcraft exist? Who were these witchdoctors? Why do we give them so much power that people are willing to kill for them? Do they play any positive role in our society? Can our society evolve past them? We concluded that African traditional spirituality now dubbed 'witchcraft' is no different than any other spiritual belief existing in the world today.
Bresson took these questions and created The Witch Doctor, a comedic short about a man diagnosed with HIV who turns to witchcraft for help. The witch doctor's advice, however, is not what he expects. Watch The Witch doctor below: