When HIV treatments improved and people stopped dying by the thousands, many HIV positive men took stock and thought, "Well...now what?” Death was not an immediate concern, but their health was still fragile and their lives had been permanently knocked off course. Men from all over the US decided that Palm Springs seemed like a viable place to retire - health services were great, housing was affordable, and it was always sunny. It was like a veritable 'Lost Horizon' where age, illness and sins were a thing of the past. But being left to your own devices in a small town where the sun always shines has a habit of exposing whom you really are.
The fastest growing demographic of people living with HIV/AIDS in the US are those over 50 years of age. They weren’t expected to live, let alone thrive. Importantly, the effect on their bodies by the medications keeping them alive was never adequately tested. After twenty years, what is worse – the medications or the HIV?
The spotlight shining on the fight against HIV has dimmed in recent years. The virus itself has been downgraded to a ‘chronic condition’. The elderly are, to a certain extent, shuffled into a corner. Aging people with HIV even more so, ignored and forgotten. But they are a reminder not to be complacent. A reminder that HIV is still a big deal. It’s not a case of just taking a few pills and you’ll be fine. These survivors are a reminder of that, but they are also a testament to strength, resilience, and endurance.
Using these individuals, "Desert Migration" discusses subjects that relate to us all; HIV positive or negative, young or old. How do we approach our own aging, and the notion of mortality? What gives us the will to create, to achieve, and even to live at all, as our minds and bodies deteriorate? How resilient is the the human spirit?
"Desert Migration" is directed by Daniel F. Cardone and produced by Daniel and Oscar nominated producer Marc Smolowitz, for the HIV Story Project.
Founded in 2009, The HIV Story Project is a San Francisco based non-profit organization focused on bridging HIV/AIDS with film, media and storytelling to fight global stigma associated with the disease. Over thirty years into one of the world’s most substantial and long-term health pandemics, The HIV Story Project brings together individuals living with HIV/AIDS, non-profit organizations addressing the disease, and top artists to participate in one of the largest cross-agency and cross-disciplinary efforts to raise awareness around HIV/AIDS the world has ever seen.
Daniel F. Cardone (Director/Producer)
Born in Australia, Daniel F. Cardone worked in production on critically acclaimed films such as The Home Song Stories, Animal Kingdom, and the HBO mini-series The Pacific. Daniel was also an Associate Producer on the groundbreaking Australian sitcom Outland.
Daniel contributed the non-fiction short Construct to the feature documentary Still Around, in addition to writing and directing the short film Incident, distributed by ShortsHD. He also directed promotional videos for San Diego Zoo Global Conservancy and American Express.
Most recently, Daniel directed & produced the dramatic recreation sequences for the feature length documentary The Life & Crimes of Doris Payne, which premiered at the Hot Docs festival, 2013.
Prior to working in the film industry, Daniel was an English language instructor, a model, a radio DJ, a busboy, a box office ticket seller and a publicist for an art house cinema. He currently lives in Palm Springs with his husband and their three dogs, Henry, Eleanor and Lady Miss Betty Boo.
Marc Smolowitz (Producer)
Marc Smolowitz is an Academy Award® nominated film, TV & new media producer (The Weather Underground 2003, Trembling Before G-d 2001), director (The Power of Two 2011) and executive producer (Still Around 2011 & The HIV Story Project) with 20+ years of experience across all aspects of the entertainment and media business. His current production projects include: The Beachhead (Director/Producer), The Campaign (Producer, funded by ITVS), and Lone Soldiers (Producer).
Most recently, Marc was the in-house producer at TellyTopia, a Silicon Valley start up specializing in interactive television, IP-TV and VOD products for cable companies. As a freelancer, he regularly works on special projects with a diverse slate of SF Bay Area-based media and technology companies, nonprofits, and philanthropies.
Finally, he teaches as a lecturer in the Film & Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Since 2007, Smolowitz has served as Chair of the founding board of directors of the San Francisco Public Press - a non-profit news start up committed to local, investigative print and online journalism that serves the public interest needs of under served communities in San Francisco.
How You Can Help
Simply contribute to funding the production of this documentary, and score some of the great perks we have to offer, which include original art works and weekends in Palm Springs! Every dollar helps immeasurably, and as the HIV Story Project is a registered non-profit, your contribution is tax deductable.
How Is The Money Being Spent?
Funds raised on Indiegogo contribtue directly to the production of the documentary - Stage One completed filming in October, 2013. We need funds to begin editing and to be able to shoot Stage Two of the production in February, 2014.
In addition, we are establishing social media platforms to draw attention to the subject of aging with HIV/AIDS. These platforms will allow people to tell their own stories, as well as find information, networks and educational resources.
We hope that 'Desert Migration' will be a powerful springboard for an ongoing public discussion on aging with HIV/AIDS.
While contributions are wonderful, you can also help greatly simply by publicizing the film on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, or any other social media you're a part of or that may be launched before this campaign runs out! Please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And for a limited time, you can donate your social media network and Thunderclap us!
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DesertMigrationAlso, check back on this page for more updates and footage of participants in the film. This footage was created during initial test shoots for the film, and is not part of the finished film - so consider this an extra peek at footage that can't seen anywhere else! Videos below feature "Eric", "Steve", "Doc" and "Bill".