Wilhemina’s War
February 29, 10 pm

Wilhemina's War

About the Film

In much of America, progress in HIV/AIDS treatment and improvement in education may suggest the worst is behind us, but every year 50,000 Americans are still diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS. Astonishingly, nearly half of them live in the South, where the AIDS epidemic has taken root in rural communities, and is one of the leading causes of death among black women.

Wilhemina’s War is the story of Wilhemina Dixon, an uneducated daughter of sharecroppers who becomes a force in her family’s fight for survival from HIV and AIDS. Shot over the course of five years, the film bears witness to the resilience and determination of the human spirit in the face of tremendous adversity. MORE

Wilhemina, or "Mina," as everyone calls her, knows little about public policy, but a great deal about caring for the sick. Five of her family members are living with HIV, and she is the caregiver for her daughter, Toni, a drug addict, and her teenage granddaughter, Dayshal, born with HIV and now the victim of online bullying.

While Wilhemina struggles to save her family, South Carolina politics only increase her burden as Governor Nikki Haley rejects billions of federal dollars available through the Affordable Care Act, a decision with devastating implications for those in need. Undaunted, Wilhemina soldiers on, taking a cue from her state’s motto: While I Breathe, I Hope.

The Filmmaker

June Cross (Producer/Director) explores complex issues through the lens of family and public health. She has won two national Emmys and two duPont-Columbia Journalism Awards. Her previous work includes The Old Man and the Storm, which followed the travails of an extended New Orleans family for three years after Hurricane Katrina, and which premiered on the PBS series FRONTLINE in early 2009 on PBS. She was an executive producer for This Far by Faith, a six-part PBS series on the African American religious experience broadcasted in 2003. During her career, she completed eight documentaries for FRONTLINE. She has also worked at CBS News, and PBS’s MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. She is the author of Secret Daughter, published by Viking in 2006, and based on an earlier documentary she produced that aired on FRONTLINE. She is the founder of the Documentary Program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. LESS

Film Credits

June Cross

Robert Salsbury

Director of Photography
John Baynard

Story Producer
Lisa Desai

Additional Photography
Cliff Charles
Craig Goodale
Steve Yountz
June Cross
Lisa Desai
Harriet Hirshorn
Jeanne Gunther

Additional Editing
Daniel Baer
Joel Davenport
Lewis Erskine
Sabrina Gordon
Dina Potaki

Associate Producers
Cassandra Lizaire
Sheila Maniar

Field Producers
Sheila Hairston
Lisa Payton

Animation and Graphics
Drew Jordan
Wes Townsend
Iain Burke

Allison Adda

Script Editor
Sheila Curran Bernard

Story Editor
Pamela Hogan

Production Associate
Jeanne Gunther

Production Assistants
Jonathan Hall
Ekene Okobi
Samien Priester

Allison Adda
Jahmil Eady
Jonathan Hall
Ibet Inyang
Dominique Mann
Zaindria Yarborough

Audio Post Facility
Splash Studios

Supervising Sound Editor
Peter Levin

Dialogue Editor
Barbara Parks

Sound Effects Editor
Will Hsieh

Re-Recording Mixer
Peter Levin

Digital Intermediate Colorist
Will Cox

Digital Intermediate Online Editor
Drew Kilgore

Digital Intermediate Producer
Caitlin Tartaro

Post Production Services
Final Frame

Dayshal’s Journal Read by
Crystal Johnson

Facebook “Trolls”
Juliet Coffey
Cherrye Davis

Voiceover Casting Director
Erica Palgon

Jessica Jurkschat
Renee Wunderlichhh
Cassie Zarnoch

Social Media Coordinator
Bethany Ocansey

Stef Gordon

Legal Services
Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams, & Sheppard, LLP

Wilhemina Dixon
Dayshal Dicks
Bobby Cuthbertson
LaShaunda Hallingquest
Harry Robinson

Archival Photos and Footage Courtesy of:
AP Images
Boston Public Library
Getty Images
Library of Congress
Pete Souza/White House Photographer
South Carolina ETV
South Carolinian Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia


“I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town”
“Motherless Child”
by Josh White
from the CD Best of Josh White
Elektra Records

“Hold On”
by James Fortune and FIYA
featuring Monica Brown
from the CD Identity
Intersound Records

“Still Standing”
by Monica Brown
from the CD Still Standing

Additional Music
Wil Blades
Mike Clark
Audio Network

Music Engineer
JC Santalis

Special Thanks
Tom Casciato
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Katie Mae Cuthbertson
Dazon Dixon
Dawn Fallik
David Fanning
Wesley Hartzog
Denise Herbin
Institute for Research in Afro-American Studies at Columbia University
Brook Kelly
Lary May
National Minority AIDS Council
Positive Women’s Network
South Carolina HIV/STD Taskforce
David Van Taylor

Production Support Provided by ITVS

JustFilms/Ford Foundation
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Candie E. Herman
Vicki Gold Levi
Peter and Stella Thomas
Pedro Perez
Margaret Summers
Janis Khorsi

This program was produced by Secret Daughter Productions Inc., which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2015 Secret Daughter Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What more can we do as a society to help underprivileged areas fight HIV? Have you ever had to be the caretaker for your family?


  • 2016 Reel Sisters of the Diaspora
    Best Documentary Award
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What more can we do as a society to help underprivileged areas fight HIV? Have you ever had to be the caretaker for your family?