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SimonSays Entertainment Will Produce '25 To Life' (Lifelong HIV Secret Shatters Family, Community)

by Tambay A. Obenson
October 14, 2013 5:40 PM
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25 to life

"Attempted Murderer..." That's what one of the young women in the preview trailer below called William Brawner, the subject of the documentary 25 To Life - a young African American man who contracted HIV at just 18 months old, something which he and his immediate family kept a secret for some 25 Years - from his friends, extended family members, and lovers, many who Brawner had unprotected sex with.

Finally, at 27 years old, William decided to publicly disclose his secret to the shock and anger of many friends, family, and past girlfriends.

The film, which we first profiled 2 years ago on this blog, has now attracted the attention of the SimonSays Entertainment production company (responsible for acclaimed films like Night Catches UsGun Hill RoadBlue Caprice and Mother Of George), who've signed on to produce the documentary, directed by Mike Brown, and produced by Yvonne M. Shirley.

The film follows William Brawner as he confronts his promiscuous past, and tries to forge a new open honest life with his HIV negative wife.

This will be SimonSays' first documentary production; the company will co-finance the film along with an all-star lineup of funders in the Ford Foundation, the Sundance Institute, Cinereach, Good Pitch, IFP, Firelight Media Lab and Tribeca All Access

A 2014 film festival premiere is expected. SimonSays has done very well with Sundance Film Festival premieres, and with the Sundance Institute as one of the film's backers, I'd say it's likely heading for a Sundance 2014 debut.

I recall when we first profiled the film in 2011, the filmmakers were trying to build awareness for the documentary and their then fundraising campaign, to assist in completing the film. Based on today's news, given all the organizations that have since gotten behind the project, I'd guess that they've reached their goal (seemingly so).

There was previously a preview for it online, which we shared, but it's been yanked, so there's no footage to look at today.

You can keep up with the project's progress via its website:; social networking sites - Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Safiya Songhai | December 11, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    I will be rushing to the theater to see this film!!! Amazing story! Stunning project!

  • JMac | October 14, 2013 7:16 PMReply

    Didn't like it then, don't like it now. It's sad that this doc is being funded (and will receive more attention than it's worth) when there are much better, more deserving subjects. I guess the lust for dysfunctional black men stories is just too strong.

  • ms.stone | October 14, 2013 5:49 PMReply

    YEA! Great filmmaker directing this project. Yea, Mike Brown!

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