Heart of the Matter

Institute History

  • 1994 Sundance Film Festival


In 1981, the first female case of AIDS was reported in the United States by 1990, 65 percent of the women dying from HIV-related diseases were still not included in the government's definition of AIDS This year, the Center for Disease Control reported that AIDS is one of the top five killers of women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four and the number-one killer of African-American women. These are the acts, statistics most of us have heard. Yet there still seems to be a problem taking them seriously. Cosmopolitan, the magazine for women, runs a prominent article stating that heterosexual
women may not be at risk at all. While the rate of AIDS infection rises, press on the subject declines Congress cuts funding for AIDS research.

Only the most progressive churches discuss AIDS at all; most decry AIDS education and tragically pass the word that AIDS is a "disease of sinners." "Fornication is a sin," preaches a popular TV evangelist. Heart of the Matter examines this issue through a series of interviews with HIV-positive women, most of whom felt that it was a myth that women could get AIDS or believed that "a lot of what was written wasn't written for people like me." That makes them typical. At the center of the film is Janice Jirau, who contracted AIDS through her husband. She says, "I loved my husband and felt that I needed to prove that, so whatever he needed I gave him. When he came home from the hospital with AIDS, he didn't want to use a condom. . . . Whatever comes, I'm going to take It." Initially turning to various agencies for help, she finds the most support from her family, primarily the women

Through the course of her illness, Janice's strength as an orator and educator provides her with unique courage and self-awareness. Her last words to the camera echo the sentiments of all those interviewed: everyone, all families, will be affected, if not infected, by this disease.

Friday Jan 21 10:00 am
Egyptian Theatre

Sunday Jan 23 4:00 pm
Holiday Village Cinema I

Wednesday Jan 26 1:00 pm
Holiday Village Cinema 1

Friday Jan 28 10:40 pm
Holiday Village Cinema III


— Andrea Alsberg

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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