First Fridays in First Person: Love & Diane
On the first Friday of each month, the Health Advocate and enBloom will feature the personal story of an individual’s trials and triumph living with disease or in advocacy for others living with disease. This is an effort, to place you, the patient and health consumer back in the center of what has become an ever increasingly complex and sometimes impossible to navigate health care system.
During a trip to New York City in the spring of 2003, a dear friend and I caught a new and much heralded independent film, a documentary actually at the Film Forum. We were not prepared for the gripping and powerful story that we saw. It was entitled Love & Diane. So our premier post is the life experience of HIV+ teen mom, Love Hinson. A synopsis from the film’s website follows:
Love & Diane tells the epic story of a family over three generations. At its heart lies the highly charged relationship between a mother and daughter, desperate for love and forgiveness but caught in a devastating cycle. For Love, the world changed forever when she and her siblings were torn from their mother, Diane. Separated from her family and thrust into a terrifying world of institutions and foster homes, the memory of that moment is more vivid to her than her present life.
Ten years have passed since that day and Love and her five siblings have been reunited with their mother. But all have been changed by the years of separation. They are almost strangers to each other and Love is tormented by the thought that it was her fault. At 8 years old she was the one who revealed to a teacher that her mother was an drug addict. Now she is 18 and HIV+. And she has just given birth to a son, Donyaeh. For Love & Diane this baby represents everything good and hopeful for the future. But that hope is mixed with fear. Donyaeh has been born with the HIV virus and months must pass before his final status is known. As Diane struggles to make her family whole again and to realize some of her own dreams, Love seems to be drifting further and further away from her child. Diane, torn by her own guilt over her children’s fate when she was an addict, tries to help and to care for her grandson. But when Diane confides her fears for her daughter to a therapist, the police suddenly appear at the door. Donyaeh is taken from Love’s arms and it seems to the family as if history has repeated itself.
Now Love must face the same ordeal her mother had faced years before. She is charged with neglect and must prove to a world of social workers, therapists and prosecutors that she is a fit mother. And Diane must find the courage to turn away from her guilt and grasp a chance to pursue her long-deferred dreams. While the film takes us deep into the life of a single family, it also offers a provocative look at the Byzantine “system” that aims to help but as often frustrates the family’s attempts to improve their situation. The film differs from many documentaries that deal with the problems facing poor communities in that it eschews “talking heads” and interviews with “experts” and aims instead to immerse the viewer in the experiences and thoughts of a family trying to survive and retain autonomy in the face of terrible challenges.
This film is a presentation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Additional Funding provided by ARTE France. 155 minutes.
Source: Photographs are stills from the film, Love & Diane and synopsis text taken from Women Make Movies website.