By Map Pritchard
On Tuesday, April 12, the Sewanee Union Theater presented the film Yesterday (2004), which was written and directed by South African Daniel Roodt, a director of many anti-apartheid films. Yesterday focuses on the tragic story of the eponymous protagonist and her struggle with HIV/AIDS. The film also addresses many pressing issues relevant to South Africans, particularly those living with HIV: the inaccessibility of health care facilities, the unavailability of ARV treatment until 2005, the infidelity of migrant husbands, and gender-based violence. As an additional result of living in a rural South African village, Yesterday becomes a pariah due to HIV’s persistent stigma. In this way, the film’s visual reality depicted the heartbreaking effects of HIV/AIDS on individuals, families, and communities.
It may be easy to simply watch the movie and regard it as a mere tragedy, but upon deeper investigation it is clear that Yesterday exemplifies the triumph of the human spirit. Alongside an incurable AIDS diagnosis, the film also highlights Yesterday’s bright and resilient daughter, Beauty, in addition to the loyal and enduring friendship between Yesterday and a teacher. In the end, the destructive nature of AIDS is overshadowed by a mother’s love for her daughter and her dedication to ensuring Beauty an education. Julia Franklin (C’ 17) said it best as she described the film: “I thought it was a beautiful, yet sad depiction of all the issues we have been discussing in AIDS in Africa with Professor Kajubi.”