A Closer Walk: A Film That Will Truly Change You

Kansas City Star movie editor Robert W. Butler reviewed the March 31st free screenings of “A Closer Walk” on the Extreme Screen at Union Station, calling the film “one of the most artful, heartrending and inspirational documentaries I’ve ever seen.”

Butler writes, “After 30 years in this business, red flags go up for me whenever someone claims a movie is a life-changing experience…So it is with sheepishness and not a little happy amazement that I can report having seen a film with the potential to actually change lives.”

The real power of the film, Butler notes, is in the way its filmmaker, Robert Bilheimer, understands human psychology. “…that very human tendency to turn away from something ugly and disturbing – to lose ourselves in some brain-numbing amusement – is precisely what Bilheimer is targeting here.

“There is some shocking, horrifying stuff on display here. Skeletal African children too exhausted to do much more than blink. Russian junkies shooting up with syringes practically teeming with the virus. But Bilheimer is never exploitative. And once you start watching this film…you’ll find that it is an incredibly beautiful movie. Superb cinematography. Poetic editing. Haunting music.

“But the central argument of “A Closer Walk” is that the AIDS epidemic – undoubtedly the worst plague mankind has ever knows, constitutes a test of our collective humanity. Do we embrace the good and selfless part of our natures? Or do we shrug and go channel surfing?”

Butler writes that although “A Closer Walk” is about the HIV disease, it is aiming for an even bigger canvas. “The film argues that basic human rights – including the right to medical care and the right to an essential dignity – are imperiled by the rise of AIDS. In fact, the disease will affect every aspect of our lives.”

Butler made special note of the film’s inclusion of segments on the Kansas City Free Health Clinic and a sermon by the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver on the devastating remembrance of a cousin who died of AIDS as feeding perfectly into the movie’s theme of personal responsibility. 

The Kansas City screenings were sponsored by Worldwide Documentaries, the Morgan Family Foundation, the James B. Nutter family and the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee.

If any film can be labeled the definitive study of the global impact of AIDS, it's A Closer Walk, a masterfully crafted documentary that takes viewers to the epicenters of the AIDS plague, from Africa to Asia to Europe to America. Read More.

A Closer Walk is billed as the first film to provide a definitive portrayal of mankind's confrontation with the AIDS pandemic. Read More.

A Closer Walk Featured at the National Press Club

On Wednesday, March 12, 2003, Glenn Close and Robert Bilheimer appeared at the National Press Club’s Newsmakers Luncheon.


Ms. Close appeared at the Press Club in association with a series of preview screenings of a new film, A Closer Walk. The film, produced by Worldwide Documentaries in association with the Global Health Council, is a definitive portrayal of the world's confrontation with the AIDS epidemic. Glenn Close and Will Smith narrate the film, directed, written and produced by Oscar-nominated director, Robert Bilheimer. Mr. Bilheimer was also in attendance. A Closer Walk explores the intricate relationship between health, dignity and human rights, and elucidates the harsh realities of AIDS in the world.  


Ms. Close discussed the importance of every individual participating in the global response to AIDS, and how with compassion and conviction we all can "walk the walk" to put an end to the worst plague the world has ever known. Mr. Bilheimer's speech may be viewed here.


The NPC luncheon was broadcast from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m Wednesday, March 12th on C-SPAN and National Public Radio member stations. Later that evening, the film was screened at the National Geographic theatre to a sold out audience.

A Closer Walk Featured on OPRAH

A Closer Walk was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show’s World AIDS Day special Monday, December 1st. Ms. Winfrey narrated and presented footage from the film to help underscore the courage and dignity of those fighting the disease and the compassion and individual commitment it will take to help bring about its end. The show was seen in dozens of countries and by millions of people around the world. Information about the film was featured on the show’s website, Oprah.com.


Local film makes nationwide debut on PBS

by Jack Garner

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
August 30, 2006


by John Leonard

New York Magazine

August 14, 2006

New York Magazine reviews A Closer Walk for its WNET August 15th PBS broadcast. Read More.

Even More Inconvenient Truths

AIDS Documentary Captures Humanity on Film


January 2003