It was no secret that messages such as “Get Tested”, “Keep the Promise” and “Live Up”, “Love”, “Protect”, “Respect” were on the minds of those who collaborated on the film “Secrets” that opened to a full house at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill on February 13.

The five-part film, a specialised programme addressing the need to get tested, as well as issues such as stigma and discrimination, was commissioned by Executive Producer Madge Dalrymple, Tourism Development Officer (HIV/AIDS) in the Ministry of Tourism, and shown during ‘Love Safely’ Week.

It is an indigenous piece by script writer, Sherryl Baker, whose “never-before-known” writing or acting abilities were given a chance by renowned actress, and Producer/Artistic Director, of “Secrets”, Cicely Spencer-Cross of Cross Caribbean.

Through the life of the main protagonist, Gina, (Carla Springer), who contracts HIV from an ‘outside lover’ named Markus, (Mark Jason Welch), while in a relationship with hubby Richard ,(Dyrstra Browne), for whom she has “three” children, the audience is afforded the opportunity to reflect on their own lives and behaviours.

Additionally, the friendships both Gina and Richard share with other actors, for example, Suzy (Toni Thorne) and James, (Jherad Alleyne) highlight the need to carefully examine our own responses to those living with, or affected by HIV/AIDS.

In a recorded message at the end of Scene One, Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy, conveyed this need for introspection, most poignantly, when he urged viewers to “pause and reflect…so we can appreciate the various sensibilities associated with people who may be [living with] the virus and at the same time take the opportunity to do all in our own power to stem the spread of the disease”.

While encouraging viewers to see themselves “as leaders in the fight against the disease,” he commended his Ministry’s efforts, noting that it had undertaken a number of programmes, geared towards the workplace practices of tourism businesses. These, he acknowledged, were made possible through collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Ministry of Health and the National HIV/AIDS Commission.

Director of Photography, Kent Jordan applauded the several actors and acknowledged that his company, Digiscape, had helped to turn the “many scenes shot out of sequence over a few months, into a continuous sequel of a story.”

However, he pointed out that his involvement in the film “Secrets” went “much deeper than providing a broadcast production service”. He explained: “We are a member of an organisation that is making a difference in HIV/AIDS. Some three years ago, Digiscape joined partnership with what was then 13 regional broadcasters and producers all dedicated to pooling resources in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

That organisation is the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership (CBMP) on HIV/AIDS, launched in May 2006 at the inspiration of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s call to action, under the Global Media AIDS Initiative. The Partnership creates a structured framework for sharing information and resources among broadcasters that significantly expands HIV/AIDS–related programming and public education activities across the Caribbean.

Mr. Jordan further added: “We are over 80 members who are convinced that regional media have a critical role to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS and that Caribbean broadcasters can make a unique and important contribution to information dissemination and awareness, as well as behavioural change.”

Through the CBMP, the Ministry of Tourism’s film “Secrets” will be beamed across the Caribbean by year-end, on 40 television stations. With this wide dissemination, it is hoped that it would, in the words of Producer/Artistic Director, Cicely Spencer-Cross, “be the beginning of great things to come in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

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