"Walk On"

Richard Smaby

This documentary film about the young man Joseph Kibler, disabled from birth by HIV, demonstrates the current faces of both disability and AIDS. The film makes the point that AIDS is not cured. More than a million Americans are infected. While the medications available to treat the disease mean that it is no longer the death sentence it was, they still live with the threat of a compromised immune system and disability. The effectiveness of the available treatments has led to AIDS receding into the background as a media story.

The documentary Walk On screened recently at the Grand Cinema as part of the Tacoma Film Festival. The director/producer Mark Bashian and the star/producer  Joseph Kibler flew up from Los Angeles to accompany their film. Their film is as much a mission as a creative endeavor. They hope to find people in their audiences who will be inspired by their film to take the next step of promoting its showing in the high schools.

The film begins with Joseph Kibler announcing his plan to participate in a 6.2 mile AIDS walk. Participating in the walk is a huge physical challenge for Joseph, since he moves like someone who has cerebral palsy – the result of his being infected with AIDS from birth. He tried the walk before and it put him back in a wheelchair. The film chronicles his training starting 6 months before the walk and adds the suspense whether he will be able to do it. In his training for the walk we encounter scenes that educate us and touch our emotions, including

  • Conversations with two sisters, one HIV positive and one negative.
  • Survey of young adults on their knowledge of AIDS.
  • Conversation with actress Regina Hall confronting Joseph with explicit questions on sex including how to have protected sex.
  • Conversations with a paraplegic runner and her husband, who is also disabled.
  • Conversations with an Iraq war vet with scary wounds
  • Comedy from a paraplegic, wheelchair bound comic.

Let me close with a list of adjectives that indicates my enthusiasm for this documentary:

  • Edgy
  • Emotionally powerful
  • Informative
  • Motivating
  • Suspenseful

View the trailer to get a really good idea of what you would see.

Visit this government website that provides information on the current state of AIDS.

And then use your contacts to encourage local high schools to arrange a showing of this very important film. The survey of high school students in the film revealed the growing belief among young people that AIDS is no longer a big problem, leading to more and more unprotected sex.