All of Us

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Emily Abt's well-meaning documentary explores the important issue of the overwhelming prevalence of the HIV virus among African-American women. Examining the problem through the eyes of Dr. Mehret Mandefro, an Ethopian-American female doctor based in the South Bronx, "All of Us" makes important points, even if it does so in a meandering, sometimes repetitive manner. While theatrical engagements will be minimal, the film, which recently premiered at NYC's Cinema Village, should eventually find a receptive audience on cable channels.

The film focuses on two of the doctor's HIV-positive patients: Chevelle, a recovering drug addict who has been clean for a year and is now engaged to be married; and Tara, a former prostitute afflicted with cervical cancer. Both women have had serious power issues with the past and present men in their lives, which the doctor explores in an effort to determine the reasons for the particularly high rate of infection among black women.

Mandrefo is not herself immune to succumbing from such pressures and lack of judgment, as she makes clear from her candid confessions about her own sometimes risky behavior in terms of relationships and sex.

While the film sometimes overreaches in its efforts to draw dramatic social conclusions from its various case studies, it ultimately makes a highly convincing argument that far more than mere abstinence programs are needed to stem the tide of this deadly epidemic.     

Pureland Pictures

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