In a slightly different world, Lazarus would not be in New York this month to see a film about his life, executive produced by Madonna, debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. In the film—which Open Society will present (in part) at this event—Lazarus recalls how he narrowly escaped kidnappers who had captured him and sought to sell him to witch doctors who would use his body parts in potions thought to bring good luck. The film tells the story of the attack, and focuses on how Lazarus has overcome severe prejudice and discrimination to become a pop star.
Since the release of his debut single last month, Lazarus has rocketed to stardom in Malawi—no small feat for a street musician with albinism from a place where a common refrain about people with albinism is that “they don’t die, they disappear,” meaning that they are felt to be more like ghosts than human beings.
After previewing the documentary, filmmaker David Darg will speak about making Lazarus, and Ikponwosa Ero, the UN independent expert on the rights of persons with albinism, will talk about efforts to address attacks and discrimination against people with albinism in Africa. Lazarus will also play some of his music.
- Lazarus Chigwandali is a Malawian street musician with albinism who has become a star.
- David Darg, director of Lazarus, is an Academy Award–nominated and Emmy Award–winning director whose documentaries focus on disaster and conflict zones.
- Ikponwosa Ero is the UN independent expert on the rights of persons with albinism.
- Alison Hillman (moderator) is a senior program officer with the Open Society Human Rights Initiative.