Kendra joins top film actors

Movie stars Jacob's Cross actress Kendra Etufunwa, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Blood Diamond actor Fana Mokoena and Kenyan actor Kevin Ndege

YOUNG SA Film and Television Award-winning director Rolie Nikiwe wants to redress the misconceptions about HIV-Aids with his television shows, even if it only helps a handful of people per episode.

Nikiwe, who directed the acclaimed series 'A place called Home' and 'Intersexions' (a drama series with 25 episodes that follow the Aids infection chain), is hoping to now move a rung up the awareness ladder with his upcoming feature film 'Inside Story: The Science of HIV-Aids'.

Nikiwe, who chose the cast of the film himself, started shooting the project four weeks ago.

The film is an initiative of the nonprofit Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership and includes local actors Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Jacob's Cross actress Kendra Etufunwa, Blood Diamond actor Fana Mokoena and Kenyan actor Kevin Ndege as the lead.

Ndege plays the role of a gifted soccer player, Kalu, who leaves his home town in Kenya for the bright lights of Johannesburg to pursue his dream of soccer stardom.

Kalu falls in love with his coach's daughter, Ify (played by Kendra Etufunwa), not long after that, but discovers that he is HIV positive and has infected her.

The film then takes a turn as viewers watch the journey of the virus in Kalu's body.

Aric Noboa, president of the Discovery Global Education Partnership, said animation had been used to illustrate the progress of the disease and the body's different reactions.

Nikiwe said the motivation behind the film was to educate viewers about the virus.

Most of the filming took place in and around Johannesburg, including Hillbrow, Thembisa, Braamfontein and some scenes in Kenya.

Nikiwe said he already received positive feedback on his projects.

"One moment I will remember is after the last episode (of Intersexions) a doctor in Braamfontein told me that in her 15 years there, she'd never seen such a flood of people coming to test," he said.

"I thought that is what it's about."

Etufunwa said playing Ify had "made me even more cautious in my relationships", admitting that reading her script had even taught her things she had thought she knew about HIV-Aids.