World premiere of York alumni’s World AIDS Day film

The world premiere of Positive Voices: Leading Together, a compelling AIDS documentary shot, directed and edited by a team of York University film alumni, and co-produced with the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1 to mark World AIDS Day.

The principal team for the 60-minute film is made up of executive director and producer Aaron Van Borek (BFA `05), co-producer/director Jacob Templin (BFA `06), cinematographer Jacqui Okum (BFA `05), editor Mark Toller (BFA `06) and post-production manager Lara Mrkoci (BFA `05). They have been collaborating on film productions since their student days in York’s Film Department.

Positive Voices: Leading Together puts a human face on the individuals and communities affected by HIV/AIDS in Ontario and beyond, and shows what is possible when people living with HIV speak out. Set against the backdrop of the 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto, the film tells the personal stories of five HIV-positive community leaders in Ontario and documents their inspiring grassroots work.

The documentary profiles Art, a two-spirited Aboriginal man, who is executive director of 2-Spirited People of the First Nations; Colleen, a woman co-infected with Hepatitis C and HIV, who is currently working with community-based agencies setting up support programs; Marco, a young gay man from a traditional Portuguese family, who is a board member for the Canadian Treatment Action Council; Lisungu, an African woman who is the women’s community education coordinator for the AIDS Committee of Toronto; and Brian, a long-term HIV/AIDS survivor, who is a board member of the Canadian Treatment Action Council.

"These five community leaders recount their journeys from when they first discovered they were HIV-positive, to their current roles as leaders within their communities," explains Van Borek. "They’ve been generous in opening up their homes and families to us, and in relating the challenges and successes they face everyday."

The trailer for the film can be seen at

An independent filmmaker from Toronto, Van Borek has produced and directed more than 12 other films, including Doctors with Borders, a co-production by York film students which premiered on ONMI television in 2005. His last film, take ‘er easy, won Best Film Award at the 2005 First Take International Student Film Festival. He is the founder of diRtywRap pRoductions.

The OHTN gala premiere of the film is open to the public at no charge. Donations can be made to the Positive Support Fund. After the screening of the film, there will be a question-and-answer session with the community leaders profiled in the documentary. The York alumni who created Positive Voices: Leading Together will also be on hand.

For more information, vist the OHTN Web site or call 416-642-6486.