Filmmaker Louise Hogarth, who directed the polarizing 2003 documentary The Gift—about “bug chasers,” gay men who purposely contract HIV—is back with Angels in the Dust. This documentary, now in limited release, follows the Cloetes, a South African family who have housed more than 550 AIDS orphans over the past 18 years. She gave us a preview.

POZ: This film is very different from The Gift; why did you make it?

Hogarth: I live in Africa part of the year, and you see a lot of children begging there. I started to see them as annoyances; that made me want to make a story that personalized them. Then my friends told me about the Cloetes family,  who started the Boikarabelo orphanage in hopes of stopping the cycle of victimhood. We [in Africa] are in an unprecedented time in history; in just two years there will be 25 million orphans, and these children go home to dark, scary places.

POZ: The Cloetes took in kids before they officially opened their orphanage. How did the neighbors react to that?

Hogarth: It was during Apartheid, so needless to say they didn’t like it. The Cloetes [who are white] were forced to move to a small village because the neighbors did not approve of having homeless children in their wealthy Johannesburg suburb.

POZ: How would you say Angels challenges people’s perceptions of African children?

Hogarth: [Usually] they are portrayed as [runny]-nosed or potbellied, but I tried to show them as kids, as people like us. I saw that despite living in a war zone of poverty, rape and AIDS, they had such joy. And I think that got across, because during the film’s screenings, people laughed 50 percent of the time and then cried the other half.
Learn more about Angels in the Dust at