Joseph Kibler was born with HIV, which hindered his physical development. “Doctors didn’t think I’d ever live beyond 4 years old, let alone walk,” he recalls. Kibler proved them wrong. “Over the course of 24 years, I went from a wheelchair, to walker, to crutches to cane.”
His triumphant spirit is captured in Walk On, a documentary that covers his efforts to complete the 6.2 miles of AIDS Walk Los Angeles. (His muscles atrophy quickly, so he undergoes much training.) “I wanted to show people my age that HIV is a disease that still exists, that it can change the course of your life and that we are not invincible,” he says of the film’s purpose, adding that perseverance is the key message. “Many things in life will come at you, but how you deal with them is really what makes the difference.”
While you’re cuing up your winter film list, add After the Fall: HIV Grows Up. It’s a documentary about the pediatric AIDS epidemic in early ’90s Romania, where more than 12,000 children and infants contracted HIV from unscreened blood under a totalitarian Communist regime. Thanks to modern meds and a political revolution, many of these youth (such as Georgie) remain alive and are now young adults—and the subject of this inspiring story.