25 to Life, a debut feature-length documentary by award-winning director and Spike Lee protégé Mike L. Brown, will have its world premiere as part of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in New York at SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd Street) on Sunday, June 22 at 11:30am. 25 to Life, the story of a man seeking redemption after keeping his HIV/AIDS status a secret for 25 years, is among some 20 films screening at the 18th annual ABFF, which is holding its 2014 Festival in New York City from June 19-22.
25 to Life is about one man’s coming-of-age with HIV, its ripple effect on his extended community, and his ongoing work to redeem himself by telling the truth. The film tackles the tough social issues of s*x, race, and manhood, providing unprecedented access into a life and a family living with the HIV virus.
The film follows William Brawner, a Philadelphia man who contracted the HIV/AIDS virus from a blood transfusion as a child. Will’s young mother, grandmother and aunt kept his HIV status a guarded secret, fearing its stigma, and provided him with a fun-loving childhood to distract him from his illness. As he approached adulthood, he suppressed the reality of his HIV status, stopped taking his medications, and turned to promiscuity and partying.
After a sobering talk with his doctor, Will surprised everyone when he disclosed his HIV-status in a very public way. Will’s revelations provoked an eruption of emotions from family, ex-girlfriends, friends, and strangers alike. In 25 to Life, he confronts these questions head-on.
Today, a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS is not necessarily a death sentence, but still relegates its carriers to lives shrouded in stigma and uncertainty as they battle to pursue normal lives. More than 35 million people are currently living with HIV worldwide, and 2.1 million of these are adolescents (10-19 years)
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, HIV incidence was highest in the 1980’s - reaching 130,000 - followed by declines, and has remained relatively stable since at about 50,000 new infections per year. Today, more people are living with HIV than ever before, as people are living longer with the disease and new infections remain relatively stable.
25 to Life is the first full-length film from New York-based filmmaker Mike L. Brown. Brown began his film training at Howard University where he worked closely with filmmakers Bill Duke (Sister Act 2, Rage In Harlem) and Haile Gerima (Sankofa). Michael holds an MFA from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he was mentored by Spike Lee and worked on When the Levees Broke. Mike received NYU's Carl Lerner Award for Best Film with Social Significance for his award winning short, A Riot in the Dark. He has directed and produced several short films including the recently filmed The Feeling You Get, starring Julito McCullum (The Wire). Mike has worked as the personal videographer to Sean "Diddy" Combs' where he contributed to Combs' fashion documentary, If I Were King.
25 to Life is produced by Leah Natasha Thomas (3.5 Minutes, Murder in Black and White) and Khaliah Neal (3.5 Minutes, An Illuminated Life). Its executive producer is Ron Simons, CEO of SimonSays Entertainment, whose previous credits include Blue Caprice, Mother of George, Gun Hill Road and Night Catches Us. Simons is also a Broadway producer whose credits include Tony-nominated hit “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” and Tony-winning plays “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and “Porgy and Bess.”
25 To Life has been fortunate to receive support from a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness space in addition to filmmaking and funding support. Housing Works has partnered for the premiere. Housing Works is a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, with a mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy. The Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, IFP, Firelight Media, GoodPitch, Active Voice, Jerome Foundation and Tribeca All Access are also amongst the films supporters.
25 To Life is Unrated with a running time of 81 minutes.
25 TO LIFE is a retrospective of a young man’s life with HIV/AIDS and a document of his struggle to carve out an open honest future after living a controversial past.
For more information:
On the Web: 25toLifefilmsite.com
Posted By: Reggie Culpepper
Monday, June 16th 2014 at 7:23PM
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