Winner 1998


ITVS-TV, City People Productions

Under the extraordinary direction of the late filmmaker Richard Kotuk, the story of Travis Jefferies is told. Travis is a document of three years in the complex life of a remarkable child with full-blown AIDS, and the unwavering love and support of his grandmother, Mrs. Geneva Jefferies, who has committed herself fully to caring for her sick grandchild. Travis and Mrs. Jefferies live in the South Bronx, a place Mr. Kotuk tells us where there are more than 50,000 people with AIDS, almost 10 precent of whom are children and teenagers. It is a place where 7,000 children have been made orphans, their parents all victims of AIDS. But it is also a place where the community—family members, friends, and neighbors—accept, nurture, and protect Travis. Travis portrays the painful reality of pediatric AIDS—both its effect on the sufferer and his caregivers. There is heartbreak for Travis as he cries to go outside and play in the snow but cannot because the health risks are too great. There is despair for Mrs. Jefferies over the fact that many drugs that Travis must take have lost their effectiveness. But there is also radiance and an intelligence in Travis, who manages to find joy in his life of constant struggle through the help of his grandmother. It is ironic that the filmmaker died suddenly at age 55, not long after the completion of this project, and that today, Travis continues to enjoy a rich and robust life. In tribute to a documentarian who devoted his life’s work and ultimately, his life itself to the study of integration, education, racism, poverty, health care and AIDS, a Peabody Award to Richard Kotuk, ITVS and City People Productions for Travis.