NEW YORK (AP) — Madonna's awakening to the crisis in Malawi — an
impoverished African nation where one million children are orphaned by
AIDS — had many consequences.
She adopted one of those orphans, her 3-year-old son David. She is building a school there.
she has told Malawi's harrowing story in her documentary, "I Am Because
We Are." With an audience thus far limited to isolated theater
screenings, it will be screened for everyone with its TV premiere on
Sundance Channel at 9 p.m. EST Monday (World AIDS Day).
feature-length film was written, produced and narrated by Madonna
(directed by Nathan Rissman). It consults experts including President
Bill Clinton and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
But the film's real
power is its images, which are often dismaying but, here and there,
reflect hope and a remarkable will to survive.
"I had many
goals," said Madonna during a phone conversation from her Manhattan
home a few days ago. "I did get to a point where I thought, 'I'm being
overambitious, I'm trying to say too much, I'll never accomplish it.'
But I feel proud of the fact that I did get to make all my points."
Among her points: an insistence that any crisis comes with solutions, however hard-won and piecemeal.
The film offers its audience a menu of constructive responses.
all you can do is live life in YOUR world in a way that shows you are
responsible for the people around you, that's a course of action," said
Madonna. "People can be of service in large ways and small."
first wide exposure of "I Am Because We Are" may be coming at a
propitious time, which befits the pop superstar who made it, with her
knack for anticipating and identifying cultural trends.
eve of a new presidential administration, Americans seem set on a more
idealistic path, however alarmed they may be by economic threats along
"People really are going, 'Wow! I can no longer ignore what's going on around me.' There are changes in the air," she said.
busy schedule continues apace. But the artistic life that drives it "is
a world you create and you inhabit, to express yourself, and to inspire
and reach out to other people," she explained. "It's also a
consolation, a place you go to to protect yourself." That's true now,
in particular, during her highly public split with Guy Ritchie, her
husband of eight years, which she described as "not easy, I'm not going
Though on a brief New York break from her concert tour,
Madonna said the day's long to-do list called for this AP interview to
be followed by interviews she would be conducting herself: with
prospective head mistresses for the girls school she is building in
"We're all going there together at the end of March," she
said, referring to David, 8-year-old son Rocco and 12-year-old daughter
"I'm very involved in a lot of things that are going on
there," she said, and as she makes return visits with her kids, she
wants them to gather insights into the plight of the world's
underprivileged. "And David's always going to understand where he came
from, and what his life could have been like."
Meanwhile, she hopes her film can spread the message to millions more.
"It has an impact on the people who see it," she declared. "The more people, the bigger the impact."