The Children of the Noon
“The Children of the Noon” begins as a beautifully shot and composed observational work that quietly documents the goings-on at an orphanage in the Kenyan village of Nchiru. During its gentle first half, the film provides a discreet look into the orphans’ lives through a series of revealing vignettes that record their daily routine, sometimes impish behavior, and impoverished but loving environment. Eventually, however, the film shifts focus in dramatic fashion. When one of the kids becomes ill and dies, it’s revealed that the cause of his death — and the reason for the rest of the children’s orphan status — is AIDS: Their parents died from the virus, and the children are all infected. At this point, as the orphanage’s staff and young residents grapple with the death and mourn at the funeral, the film pivots to become a gripping and almost unbearably moving exploration of the impact of HIV/AIDS in Kenya specifically and Africa generally. In an especially affecting sequence, a group of the HIV-positive orphans discuss their understanding of HIV/AIDS and touchingly outline their future hopes.