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Wilhemina's War
A film by June Cross
US, 2015, 53 minutes, Color, DVD
Order No. W161182
In much of America, progress in HIV/AIDS treatment suggests the worst is behind us, but every year 50,000 Americans are still diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS. Astonishingly, it’s one of the leading causes of death of African American women. And nearly half of the Americans with HIV live in the South, where the AIDS epidemic has taken root in rural communities. WILHEMINA’S WAR is an intimate, personal narrative that tells the story of one family’s struggle with HIV over the course of five years. Despite facing institutional and personal obstacles every step of the way, 62-year-old Wilhemina Dixon works tirelessly to combat the stigma and care for her daughter and granddaughter, both HIV-positive.

Emmy award winning journalist and Professor June Cross finds Wilhemina, a one woman army fighting against a systemic dehumanization that’s the result of centuries of racism, and lack of access to drugs and treatment. Her story touches upon many of the structural issues that contribute to the alarming rising trend of HIV-positive women in the South: lack of education, lack of access to quality healthcare, lack of transportation, and silence and stigma in the local church congregations. This urgent documentary lays bare the intersection of poverty, race and politics with women’s health and security in the rural south, while showing determination in the face of adversity, and the triumph of the human spirit. Essential viewing for African-American Studies and Public Health courses.


Best Documentary, Reel Sisters Film Festival

  • Black Hollywood African American Film Festival
  • Pan African American Film Festival
  • Ethnografilm Festival, Paris

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    “WILHEMINA’S WAR is a poignant, eye-opening documentary that truly sheds light on the ongoing struggles we face in combatting HIV stigma and the lingering barriers that prevent people living with AIDS from accessing care and treatment.”
    Cynthia Davis, Chair
    AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Board of Directors

    “Filmmaker June Cross does a brilliant job of seamlessly weaving the personal stories of courage in the face of tragedy, with the important task of providing accurate information about the social and political context in which the AIDS epidemic is growing.”
    Gloria Ayee Ph.D. Candidate
    Department of Political Science at Duke University

    “Eye-opening film."
    Charleston Chronicle

    "A TV highlight."
    The Washington Post

    "Eye-opening…a much needed call to action...shines a light on a population often ignored by the AIDS film canon."
    Hello Beautiful

    “The film investigates the difficult intersection of health policy and personal responsibility."
    The Atlantic

    “With statistics continuing to indicate that African American women constitute 65% of women diagnosed with HIV… it is important to share the powerful message of Wilhemina’s War, which continues to shed light on the struggles of HIV throughout the South…”
    Imara Canady,
    AIDS Healthcare Foundation

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    Wilhemina's War is included in the following Special Collections.
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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us