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Today the Hawk Takes One Chick

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Grade Level: Coll-Adult
Producer: DER
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 72 mins
Country of Origin: United States
Study Guide: Online See Link Below

Copyright Date: 2008
Available in French: No

Amidst the highest prevalence of HIV in the world and the lowest life expectancy, three grandmothers in Swaziland, a small, landlocked country in southern Africa between South Africa and Mozambique, cope in this critical moment in time. The generation between the grandmothers and their grandchildren has been severely effected by HIV.

Today the Hawk Takes One Chick moves delicately between the lives of the grandmothers, whose experiences highlight a rural community at the threshold of simultaneous collapse and reinvention. Through the poignant perspective of these women, the film creates a portrait of a community by layering discrete moments in time. Presented without overt narrative structure or narration, the film's drama emerges from the patient accumulation of steady details that, in sum, tell a greater story of family in a world dictated by AIDS.

The events in the film occur in a rural area within a 15-mile radius. In Swaziland, nearly 40% of people are HIV positive and life expectancy has dropped to 32-years. The lives of the three grandmothers have been consumed by addressing the needs of their community while at the same time retaining the threads of the fraying traditional life.

Through verité footage and recordings of intimate conversations, the gentle beauty of the rural Swaziland landscape and way of life are in stark contrast with the urgency of the grandmothers' everyday lives: families living off World Food Program rations, a missing generation of productive young adults, children surviving without parents. These crises all combine and overwhelm what should be the grandmothers' time to retire, relax and be taken care of by adult children.

What is life when sickness and death are an everyday experience? For these grandmothers, there is no choice but to steadfastly persevere and refuse to abandon their children. As more and more insight into the women's lives is revealed, we are forced to ponder the question asked by granny Albertina: "What will happen when all the grannies are dead?"

Awards: Nominee, Fledgling Fund Socially Conscious Documentary Award IFP 2007

Screened at:
  • Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival, Canada, 2008
  • ReFrame Peterborough International Film Festival, Canada, 2008
  • Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston premiere, February 2008
  • Full Frame Documentary Film Fesival, April 2008
  • Sarasota Film Festival, April 2008
  • Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, NY, April 2008
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2008
  • MIT Women's Studies Department and Women in Film and Video May 2008
  • Kansas International Film Festival, September 2008
  • Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, September 2008
  • Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival, 2008
  • Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, Ithaca, NY, 2008
  • Maryland Film Festival, Baltimore, MD, 2008
  • Voices From the Waters Film Festival, Bangalore, India, 2008
  • Festival of Visual Culture, Finland, 2008
  • Newburyport Documentary Film Festival, MA, 2008
  • New Hampshire Film Festival, 2008
  • Margaret Mead Film Festival, New York, 2008
  • Newburyport Film Festival, MA, 2008
  • Worldfilm 2009-Tartu Festival of Visual Culture, Estonia, 2009
  • Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Missoula, MT, 2009

Links: http://www.der.org/films/hawk-takes-one-chick.html