Youth and adults
Care and support
Orphans and HIV
Eclipse is a dreamlike documentary depicting the total blackout of four girls ‘ lives, eclipsed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It is a story about four sisters, Laura, Enguinesse, F‡tima and Luisa -the oldest sixteen and the youngest nine. They are AIDS orphans living in the Mozambican town of Chimoio. Their mother died of AIDS and their father disappeared, probably to commit suicide in a nearby place of spirits. The film documents the girls’ day to day struggle for existence as they try to make ends meet by re-selling produce they have bought from the market.
Questions For Discussion
- What is the message of this film?
- What problems do these children face?
- What are the different ways in which the four sisters cope?
- How could the robbery and physical abuse be resolved?
- How else could they survive?
- How does their community help the children and how could they improve this support?
- How could emotional support be ensured for these children?
- How can your community support and care for children who have lost their parents to AIDS?
Eclipse is a moving, narrative documentary depicting the total blackout of four young girls lives, eclipsed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Set in the Northern Mozambican city of Chimoio, it tells the tragic story of four sisters orphaned by AIDS, who have come to the city as refugees.
The film documents the girls’ day-to-day struggle for existence as they try to make ends meet by re-selling tangerines that they have bought from the market. We meet Laura (16), Enguinesse (15), F‡tima (13) and Luisa (10) on their way to visit the grave of their oldest sister, who has died recently. Since her death, the two middle sisters have not gone back to school. Mother Clara, their friendly neighbour, tells Enguinesse that she might be able to make a better future if she gets an education. While F‡tima eventually returns to school, her sister continues to wander aimlessly in the bush.
The film shows how vulnerable the girls are, despite the protective presence of a policewoman and Mother Clara. Laura, the oldest surviving sister, is attacked on the way to market and one night their blankets are stolen from them. But Laura is unable, or perhaps unwilling, to say who her assailant is in each case.
When it happens, the total eclipse of the sun is an unremarkable event for the sisters, yet for the viewer it is a poignant metaphor for the darkness in their lives.
This simply-told story is most heartbreaking when the girls try to recall their parents and they are only able to remember Luisa’s birthday because it falls on Christmas Day. The film has an aura of understatement at odds with the colossal shadow cast by the deaths of their close relatives and their own undisclosed HIV status.
Orlando Mesquita has made over 30 films since 1984 as an editor, director and producer. His work covers features (editor/assistant director in Disobedience, 90 min, 2001), educational programmes, and many documentaries. He has been involved projects which have documented just about every aspect of contemporary Mozambican life, from the roles of women to the war and its aftermath of refugees (editor in A Arvore dos Antepassados, 50 min, 1994) and demobilized soldiers ( editor/director in A Caminho da ReinteraÃ‚Â‹o, 23 min, 1997). In 1999 he won a Kuxa-Kanema best video Award for his work as co-director and editor on Community Stories (6X 26 min, 1999).
Briefly describe what your film is essentially about?
My film is about lives which have been eclipsed by HIV/AIDS. It covers uncertainty, fear, vulnerability and emptiness. The girls in my film do not have AIDS, but as you learn at the beginning of the film, their parents died of AIDS and they have no relatives. They came to the suburbs of Chimoio as refugees. In order to survive they run a little business selling charcoal and tangerines. On good days they earn enough money to eat and buy clothes. The community plays an important role in their lives: to educate them and encourage them to go to school, to help them with their basic needs, and to educate them about HIV/AIDS. But there is no real substitute for their own parents.
What was your experience in the making of your film?
It was one of the most difficult films in my life to make. The girls are very closed off in their own thoughts. They are not used to talking to people, they are used to being silent. The community has done its best but since the eldest sister died, they have become more withdrawn, more fearful… more eclipsed. They seem to be confused by all the many people who want to help them, to educate them; they are uncertain about which direction to go in. My biggest problem was getting them to talk to us strangers, getting them to develop a relationship with the film crew. The first week all they could say was “yes”, “no” and “I don’t remember.” It was a desperate struggle every day, but in the end I think we managed well.
How would you describe the value of the message embodied in your film, to potential audiences?
The community has an important role to play, but they need to learn exactly what is required, what works best.
How would you describe your film in the context of HIV/AIDS?
There are no words to describe the dimension of this tragedy, and there seems to be little hope for a better future. There are many places in the world like Chimoio, where, on Sundays, the town becomes empty because everyone has gone to the cemetery. Much more must be done, because, even if we find a cure, there are thousands of children with no relatives to take care of them.
Jaoa “Funcho” Costa