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  • Writer's pictureAfter Hour Film Festival

HIV Saved Paul's Life!

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Yes, you read that right! HIV Saved My Life is a documentary directed by Paul Edward Foulkes and Aaron Yamashita which is based on Paul's own experience of being HIV positive and how it affected the lives of the ones near him. Needless to say, the film is extremely close to Paul's heart and Aaron did every justice to that in co-directing this beautiful documentary. We chatted up with Paul as we wanted to know more about this beautiful journey of his. Also, we would like to do our bit to spread awareness and remove stigma regarding HIV as much as possible.

After Hour : Your film's title is strikingly different than what most people think about the condition of being HIV positive. We understand it is very close to Paul's heart, how did Aaron get involved in the project? What made the two of you say you are going to do it?

Paul : Aaron is a professional Cameraman who lives and works in Tokyo. Aaron and I met a few years ago by chance in Okinawa Japan through a introduction by his sister who is a good friend of mine. After viewing some of the work that Aaron had previously filmed, I took a liking to his style, especially his ability to introduce B-Roll video. I chose Aaron for this project because of his ability to communicate in both languages (English and Japanese) Aaron had expressed that he would like to expand his career into editing and Directing of Documentary movies which totally worked with the project I was wanting to do. After long consultation with my wife about coming out about my condition, we both agreed that the time was right and that in order to present the project in both a real but positive way that I would need the assistance of someone who would not be judgmental and or prejudice towards this subject. After interviewing Aaron, I discovered that he was the best man to shoot the interview. Also his knowledge of B-roll film and being able to introduce it into the storyline in order to make the project more easy to digest by the viewer, I introduced him to the script. Although Aaron is a cameraman, I thought that his expertise in introducing B-roll into the main film was perfect. Upon Editing the Documentary I decided that Aaron should also take credit for some of the Direction of the movie. He is a great asset to have when filming Documentaries, and I look forward to working with him on my next project.

After Hour : Both of you are deeply concerned with the social issues and are committed towards making a difference through your body of work. How do you keep yourselves going when working on something that is so real and affects the society you live in?

Paul : Traveling the world and meeting so many people, I have found that everyone has a story to tell. The need for people to listen to these stories is the only way to bring about change or at least try. The social injustices which I have been witness to and the overwhelming news of social injustices happening to everyone on the street has made me reflect on both who I am in society and how I may work to try and better some of these injustices.

After Hour : Paul, you have worked on LGBTQIA+ films. What do you think needs to change in the society when it comes to the people of alternate sexual preferences and gender identities?

Paul : We are all conceived from a sexual act by a man and a woman, and or through other medical processes, However the fact remains that we are born with the DNA of both a mail and a Female. We carry both sets of Hormones, and DNA. Are we not therefore born Bi-sexual, depending on how you look at it. The prejudices against cross gender, and other LGBTQ+ groups is overwhelming. I have witnessed these prejudices myself, and also that of others in my time.Society has forgotten that we are all created equal, and that we are all Human. To love another Human being is a right given to us at birth and should not be questioned. More open communication, sharing of Knowledge, and above all Legislation to protect those who need it. Society can be very cold at times and the need for each of us to look deeper into our own self being before we try and pass judgement on others is a must.

After Hour : Can you please tell us about some incident that moved you while you were working on a film on social issue(s). Please give separate accounts if possible.

Paul : I met a woman (Born Male 6 years ago and she was the inspiration for my short movie "Reflection by Paul" a beautiful Human being who had gone through transition to have a sex change. Persecuted by her own family for wanting to become a female, alone and persecuted by people around her, she was dedicated to becoming who she truly believed she was or could become. She is a hard working, loyal, and gift to society. I can honestly say that working with her on my short movie not only inspired me to work harder, but also to become more knowledgeable in this field. I can honestly say that while working with her, I fell in love. Not with a woman, or a man but with her Humanity and how beautiful she was.

While working on "HIV Saved my life" I was very encouraged by many friends and associates to come out publicly, to help other who may be going through he same darkness that I had gone through. Letters of support, telephone calls flooded in. Although the chances of being looked upon in a negative way by telling my story.

A woman who had experienced and contemplated committing suicide for different reasons, had seen part of my story and opened up to me about her own trials, A woman whom I had not known but wanted or needed to talk to. I was honored by her message and we have since communicated and have become friends.

After Hour : Tell us other projects you are working on.

Paul : I am currently working on a project of immense dimension, about Rape, Sexual abuse and Harassment of women and children in Japan, and how the Japanese legislation and government need to make changes in order to protect these victims. To expose partially that part of the problem is also a cultural one here in Japan. 10's of thousands of cases get processed each year but are never bought to trial.These people need a Voice, and I hope to be able to help them find that voice.

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