Photo Stories: African Women and Kids
Affected by AIDS Share their Lives


Christopher Zalla

Christopher Zalla is a writer-director whose first film, Padre Nuestro, won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Mr. Zalla also wrote a feature film, set in a Bolivian prison, entitled Marching Powder, for Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment; Don Cheadle is attached to star.

Mr. Zalla has received an MFA with Honors in directing from Columbia University's Graduate Film Division, where the faculty awarded him a full Departmental Research Assistant fellowship for merit as a top student. Zalla also served as a teaching assistant at Columbia, where he instructed undergraduates in weekly classes in film history, theory, and craft. Mr. Zalla was born in Kisumu, Kenya and spent much of his youth overseas. He has also worked as a rough carpenter and spent nine summer seasons as a commercial salmon fisherman in Alaska's Bering Sea. He is fluent in Spanish. Mr. Zalla currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

comments from website visitors:

Hi Chris! Check out your Uncle Curtis's web The House is small is the top link. Love, Mom
Mary Howard
Delaware, Ohio
Posted Friday, August 10, 2007 1:13PM

I think this project will open the horizons of all of us involved on it
Jose Augusto Nhantumbo
Posted Thursday, August 02, 2007 5:31AM

share your thoughts

Your name (optional)

Your location (optional)

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!

Please note all comments are reviewed for clarity and appropriateness before publication on the website.

take action

If the stories on this website move you, take action now and see how easy it is to make a difference.



photos by this person (click to view larger):

photos of this person (click to view larger):

New threads
Tomas Cumbana

Young film director
Eugene Ahn


blog entries by this person:

To foster a young filmmaker

Christopher Zalla

Posted 10:19AM on Saturday, August 04, 2007 Pacific Time

I am writing this somewhere over the Atlantic, as I fly the first leg of my journey to Maputo.†This will be my first blogging experience, one that I already find somewhat difficult.†Itís odd for me to write in the first person, as generally I feel most comfortable focusing on characters and stories -- certainly not myself. †I suppose thereís a reason I chose a life behind the camera instead of in front of it.

My days leading up to departure were intensely busy, and I certainly neglected a lot of people and responsibilities as a result.†I was gathering, testing, and packing video equipment for this trip, rewriting a screenplay, creating a new one, and coordinating the upcoming release of my first feature film, PADRE NUESTRO. So I am quite looking forward to the focus and purpose that will come with our project in Mozambique, as I think it will offer some badly needed space and perspective.

I am thrilled at the prospect of encountering the unknown these next two weeks, yet I am also quite apprehensive. Itís been over two decades since I last visited East Africa (my place of birth), and I am not quite sure how the radical transformation of the Sub-Saharan region will affect me. My memories are indelible, yet they have become more and more incongruous with the news stories, images, and reports from friends over the last twenty years.

I hesitate to make any generalizing statements about the dual epidemics of poverty and disease in Africa (especially HIV/AIDS), before engaging those realities in person.†We all know (I hope) the numbers, the statistics, the tolls.†But I am not sure how much weíve transcended that data and seen the human dimension that constitutes it.

Ironically, it seems to me, in this world where we have more and more access to each other via the new media, we spend less and less time truly connecting with others. †The result has been a reduction to -- and reliance on -- labels. Perhaps itís a tool for managing the overload of stimuli we receive, or perhaps itís a way of coping with difficulty, or perhaps we really donít care about our neighbors after all. †But with the labels come a simplification; a reduction of humanity.

One of the greatest things about film is that it speaks the universal language of human emotions that transcend cultural boundaries.†I hope that by empowering a child to learn basic filmmaking, we can give him/her the tools to capture those emotions, and the power to speak that language.†Though the clamor of our busy world will no doubt drone on we can help add a childís voice to that din, and just maybe, open up a new conversation.

And we can listen.

Before I end, I must thank Neal Baer and Holly Carter for extending me this great opportunity.†Itís not often in life you get to share your gifts in order to empower others.†Success has no better reward.


take action

If the stories on this website move you, take action now and see how easy it is to make a difference.

get podcast

Subscribe to our free iTunes podcast to get the latest audio and video updates as the project unfolds

get email alerts

Subscribe to our free newsletter to get email updates as the project unfolds

Before we could not build houses but today women can. We can do anything that men can do.
Pumla File
Cape Town project participant

A social art initiative by