While many of us struggle with the effects of aging, this sensitively-crafted spot for French non-profit AIDES portrays how those who didn't expect to grow old view, and appreciate, their changing bodies in an entirely different way. 

The campaign celebrates the 40 years since the AIDES' establishment in 1984 as the first organisation dedicated to combating HIV and hepatitis in France and Europe. In 2024, AIDES continues to act with and for populations most exposed to epidemics. Every day, on the ground, the association's activists work tirelessly to reduce new infections and support those affected in accessing care and advocating for their rights. 

Created by agency STRIKE, produced by VOIR Pictures, and skilfully directed by Brazilian filmmaker Ariela Dorf, the film depicts people living with HIV getting ready to go out, where each encounter with a mirror reflects a tapestry of wrinkles, greying hair, and sagging skin. shots spoke to Dorf about the concept, casting, and score choice for this affecting film. 

AIDES – Aides - Fighting HIV for 40 Years

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What was the brief like from AIDES for this spot and how much creative freedom did you have?

From the very first briefing call, this project touched my heart: I’ve always seen this film as an ode to life and as a celebration of the privilege of living. Simple and truthful.

Aging with HIV is indeed a privilege that not everyone shares. With advancements in treatment and medical care, many people with HIV now have the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives. This represents a significant shift from the early days of the epidemic when an HIV diagnosis often meant a drastically reduced life expectancy.

I saw an opportunity to create a film that authentically and sensitively addresses the beauty of getting older. While aging inevitably comes with its own set of challenges, it's also a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the richness of the human experience. So, embracing the privilege of aging means cherishing every moment, embracing the wisdom that comes with time, and recognising the value of each stage of life.

How did your concept for the film evolve?

Ultimately, the film would serve as a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the beauty found in embracing life's transitions.

As the director of the film, I was able to imprint my vision and identity onto the screen and could capture the raw and authentic journey of aging with a sensitive lens, with the help of director of photography, Victor Seguin. 

The creative freedom granted by the agency and client allowed me to portray each character in a sensintive and honest manner. With this freedom, I've been able to dive deep into the complexities of each individual and capture their essence. By portraying them truthfully, flaws and all, we created characters that feel real and relatable.

What were the highlights of shooting this film?

This film was special because everyone involved was deeply committed to the cause. Every member of the team (from agency to client, cast and crew) poured their heart and soul into the project. It was a collaborative effort fuelled by passion and dedication, with everyone united in their commitment to telling the story authentically. Voir was an invaluable partner, dedicated to crafting a beautiful film from start to finish.

The exchange with Strike and with Aides was incredibly gratifying. We had fruitful discussions, shared ideas, and collaborated closely to ensure that the creative vision was brought to life in the most impactful way possible. Their support, openness to new ideas, and trust in our creative process were invaluable throughout the project. Working with them was not only professionally rewarding but also personally fulfilling, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have collaborated with such a dedicated and talented team.

Why did you choose this particular song? 

We were looking for a nostalgic song that evokes beautiful memories of a life well-lived. Something emotionally stirring without being overly melancholic. The sound studio The Prod. Paris did a beautiful research with different possibilities of songs that would bring this feeling that we were looking for. When we listened to Brenda Lee’s If you love me on the set for the first time, we were shooting the locker room scene. I looked into Jerome’s eyes, and we immediately knew this was the one.

In a certain part of the music, Brenda Lee sings “When at last our life on earth is through will share eternity with you”.

Can you tell us more about the casting choices and their individual stories? 

The agency and the client emphasised multiple times the importance of casting actors who are representative of the individuals served by the NGO, ensuring that they could see themselves reflected in the film.

Some of the actors shared beautiful stories in the set about their personal connections to the subject matter, recounting the loss of friends and loved ones to HIV/AIDS. Their participation in the film was not only a professional opportunity but also a deeply personal journey, allowing them to honour the memory of those they had lost and to contribute to a narrative that promotes understanding and compassion.