NIGHT STOP 00:48:50
Youth and adults
Gender and sexuality
In central Mozambique lies the Corridor of Death, a long-distance trucking route, where more than 30% of the population are HIV+. Shot mostly at night, the film charts a series of interwoven stories about the lives of women who wait for the arrival of truck drivers at an overnight trucking station. Three groups of sex workers, the Calamities, the Students and the Founding Members, vie for business, disappearing into the drivers ‘trucks, which are cheaper than renting rooms. In this world, even though condoms are distributed free by activists, you can earn more by having unprotected sex.
Questions For Discussion
- What is the message of this film?
- Why are these women sex workers?
- What other options do they have?
- Why do some of the women have sex without a condom?
- Do you think the clients have the right to prevent sex workers from using a condom?
- What can be done to ensure the sex workers’ health and safety?
- How can the women know if their clients have a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?
- What power do women have to refuse sex when the client has an STI?
- Has this film changed your attitude to sex workers? If so, how?
- How aware of HIV do you think the truckers in this film are?
- How could truckers who travel across borders be made aware of the dangers of HIV and how it is spread?
- What other ways besides sex can HIV be transmitted?
The highest incidence of HIV in Mozambique is concentrated along three roads, over which a large part of the region’s merchandise passes. Known as “road transport corridors”, with an important role in the economy of the country, they have been transformed into The Corridor of Death.
Licinio Azevedo’s dark documentary, depicts a night in the life of the truckers who travel these roads and the women who make their living from them.
The trucks stop in front of the Monte Namuli Boarding House, Bar and Restaurant, on the outskirts of town, in a large open space that extends along the two sides of the road. It is here that three groups of young women sell their services to the truckers who stop over for the night.
“The Calamities”, are five girls aged between 14 and 15 who sleep together on mats in a one-room hut. “The Founding Members” are over 20 years old. They gave themselves their name because they were the first to start to work on that “spot” in front of the Monte Namuli. “The Students” are between 15 and 18 and better-looking than “The Calamities”.
Night falls and the groups of girls, after getting ready for the night’s work, head directly to the Monte Namuli where some fifty trucks are already parked for their drivers to have supper and rest after the long journey that they have made during the day from cities in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa, to or from the Mozambican ports. As the girls arrive, the drivers are in the restaurant and bar or walking around their trucks, concerned about theft or busy with mechanical problems.
It is then that Kababa wakes up. He is 18, barefoot, badly dressed. He sleeps in the open on a rusty metal shelf, next to a shack which serves as a tire repair shop, set up a few metres from the trucks. Kababa buys diesel from the drivers of the fuel transport trucks, who are so underpaid they need this extra money to eat. With the resale of the diesel, Kababa supports five young brothers and sisters and his unemployed father.
Relaxed, the women from the various groups occupy the counter of the bar or walk amongst the trucks and approach the drivers and their helpers. They offer themselves in exchange for a small sum of money, to provide some fleeting moments of pleasure in the truck cabs where the drivers sleep, or in the cheap rooms of the Mount Namuli. The drivers almost never have enough money to pay for a room. They prefer to use the truck cabs and “The Students”, younger and prettier, are the first to be solicited or to press their services.
Through the comments of “The Founding Members” we learn that for a slightly higher fee “The Students” and “The Calamities” accept having sex without use of a condom and that many of them have venereal diseases. “The Founding Members” refuse to accept these risks. In order to compete with the younger ones they offer special pleasures provided by the use of traditional drugs that “heat up” the women or increase the men’s potency. Flora, one of “The Founding Members”, quit primary school because of getting pregnant and after that she never managed to get anywhere in life. The child died and she went to live with her sister and two nephews. The poverty was crushing and one day she said to her sister: “I’m going away to look to get AIDS. Mourn for me if I die”.
One young activist from an organisation to fight AIDS, distributes condoms amongst the women and tries to convince them of the need to insist that the drivers use them. The youngest ones pay him little heed. They accept the offer of the condoms but this does not influence their behaviour.
Beguiling, better-dressed, with an imitation leopard-skin jacket, despite the nearly 30-degree heat, “The Traveller” climbs out of a truck and says good-bye to its driver. Her name is Regina, she is 25 years old, with an unusual beauty, and her arrival provokes a certain agitation amongst the others. She circulates amongst the women and drivers with ease and grace. When she speaks, one learns that unlike the others, she doesn’t have a fixed residence. She goes from one country to the other as a part-time companion of the drivers.
It is a long night. When nearly all the drivers are back in their trucks, some alone, others with company, some women begin to leave. “The Calamities”, the three “Founding Members” and some others stay until much later. “The Calamities” noisily bang on the doors of the trucks, provoking the drivers who don’t want sex. “The Founding Members” are a little drunk. They argue amongst themselves for no reason, get angry and make up easily. The three go together to back up Kababa when two police officers want to confiscate the diesel that he bought.
In the early morning, when the first trucks begin to leave, “The Calamities” empty the tires of a truck driver who didn’t want their services. In a group, gaily singing “Hallelujah Jesus”, “The Founding Members” walk half-naked through the street toward their rooms.
In front of the Mount Namuli Boarding House, deserted now, without money to pay for a room, Regina sleeps in a chair, wrapped up in her eye-catching jacket.
Licinio Azevedo is an independent filmmaker and co-founder of the Mozambican film production company, Ebano Multimedia. He has directed and produced many award winning documentaries, which have been screened at numerous international festivals. Tchuma Tchato (56 mins, 1997) won a Panda Award at the Wildscreen Festival in the UK in 1998 and was chosen as a finalist at the Third International Environmental Film Festival in Pretoria in 1997. He has produced and directed several feature films, completing Disobedience (90 mins) this year. He is also a writer and his collection of stories on the Mozambican War of Independence formed the basis of Mozambique’s first full-length feature film.
Briefly describe what your film is essentially about?
This is a film on reality, with no gray areas.
What was your experience in the making of your film?
It was an enriching experience from the human viewpoint, since I lived in a quite close and intense relationship with a stigmatised and socially marginalised group.
How would you describe the value of the message embodied in your film, to potential audiences?
There isn’t a message a such. There is only the desire to have made a socially useful film and to get the audience to share with me a phrase of Pasolini’s: “the cinema was an explosion of my love for reality.”
How would you describe your film in the context of HIV/AIDS?
It shows that the education campaigns regarding AIDS are still far from reaching their objective.