State of Denial


Bottom 40% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2003 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Elaine Epstein, Joseph Lovett, Harriet Gavshon, David Jammy, Ruth Becker, Sven Cheatie, Carl DeHeer, Brian Green, Eddie Wes, Penny Elliott Hays, Rachel Fedde, Jason Szabo


Marrying trenchant political criticism to a bold sense of humanity and responsibility, State of Denial engages head-on the unspeakable response to the AIDS crisis in South Africa. With South Africans dying in massive numbers, President Thabo Mbeki inconceivably continues to question whether the HIV virus causes AIDs. An estimated 4-7 millions South Africans are currently living with HIV, and unless official policy dramatically shifts, the country faces up to seven million AIDS-related deaths by the year 2010.

Wading into this sociopolitocal morass, Elaine Epstein brings her camera, a sense of the cognitive dissonance between the official posturing and actual suffering, and her sensitivity and respect for the remarkable spirit of a people determined to live while maintaining dignity and hope. While this epidemic inflicts death and despair, the courage and defiance of activists, journalists, healthcare providers, and support groups who refuse to close their eyes to the crisis but also in the actions of selfless, ordinary citizens who, with grace and even humor, speak out against official policies. in some cases disclosing their HIV-positive condition despite possible stigma and shame. State of Denial is a scathing attack on a president turning his back on a crisis of staggering proportions and a tribute to people fighting for their lives and the future of their country.

Film Takes Pace.