A documentary directed and produced by a 2009 alumna while she studied at Elon University has been selected for screening at the St. John's International Women's Film Festival in Canada later this month.
Erin Barnett’s documentary, “My Name is Anita,” introduces viewers to Anita Isaacs, a former Periclean-in-Residence at Elon and an HIV/AIDS activist in Namibia. Barnett, a communications major and Honors Fellow, traveled to the African nation during her studies to interview Isaacs for the film.
“The stories Anita shared with me took the multifaceted, complex issue of HIV/AIDS and gave it shape and definition- the gendered nature of the disease, the pervasive stigma, the cultural and spiritual dilemmas,” Barnett said. “They were all embedded in the narrative of Anita’s life.”
The film will be screened Oct. 23, 2009, in Newfoundland, Canada. It follows Isaacs life and trials, unveiling her ill-fated yet empowering experiences with AIDS, which she contracted from her husband.
Throughout the documentary, Isaacs talks about her personal battle with gender inequality. She speaks out about her verbally abusive husband and her regrettable persistent denial of the virus due to well-ingrained social stigma.
“I was moved by Anita’s story of empowerment through advocacy,” Barnett said. “I can only hope that my film will introduce countless others to Anita, her struggles, and the larger global issues her life embodies.”
Barnett is a young documentary filmmaker who graduated from Elon University with two social issue documentaries under her belt. The first was a 15-minute piece on Internet access and governance shot in Athens, Greece, “Bridging the Digital Divide.” It was screened at the second annual International Internet Governance Forum in Rio De Janeiro in 2007. The second was “My Name is Anita.”
Barnett is now an assistant Alex Gibney at Jigsaw Productions in New York.
The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival aims to provide women from around the world the opportunity to showcase their work and support the local film community in Canada. According to its Web site, the film festival screens approximately 80 works by women directors, producers and writers in a week. Participants are also able to attend workshops and seminars. The festival typically attracts more than 1,000 people every year.
To watch the trailer for “My Name is Anita,” click on the link to the right. A previous interview with Barnett can also be accessed to the right.