AIDs Activist Documentaries on DVD

Doc DVDs

Consider this a quick public service announcement to gently point out to you all that two fantastic documentaries from last year focussing on AIDs activists are released on DVD next month.

Fire In The Blood focuses on the ongoing scandal by which governments block access to affordable AIDs medication by ruthlessly protecting the patents of large pharmaceutical manufacturers. I called the film “engrossing and important” and said that it “needs to be seen by as many people as possible”. We all know what a good judge I am. Fire In The Blood is released on DVD on 24th March and can be pre-ordered now.

How to Survive a Plague tells a more specific and personal tale by looking at the New York AIDs epidemic from the 1980s to present day using mostly archive footage and few talking heads. I described the film as “an intimate and personal documentary about a global tragedy that will give you hope in the strength of the combined human spirit just as much as it crushes your belief in humanity.” Of the two films this is the one that brought out the tears. How to Survive a Plague is out on DVD on 31st March and is also available to pre-order.

Each film approaches the subject in a different way but both tell an important story about the AIDs crisis and the way in which we as a species will chase profits at the expense of other people’s lives.

Out Now – 22nd February 2013

Cloud Cloud Cloud Atlas Atlas Atlas

Cloud Atlas
Six stories spanning hundreds of years and half a dozen genres. What connects the stories? You’ll have to find out for yourself. Opinions are split but for what it’s worth I gave the film five stars.

Song for Marion
A pensioner joins an “unconventional” choir in order to honour his dead wife’s passion for performing. The film is PG so the unconventional nature of the choir is limited to pensioners singing about sex.

All I will say about this film is that its ad on IMDb keeps expanding and getting my way. You have pissed me off Mama!

Lore (limited release)
“As the Allies sweep across Germany, Lore leads her siblings on a journey that exposes them to the truth of their parents’ beliefs. An encounter with a mysterious refugee forces Lore to rely on a person she has always been taught to hate.” Stephen is totally reviewing this for us… right?

To the Wonder (limited release)
A new film from Terrence Malick which promises to have 100% fewer dinosaurs than his most recent output. The plot seems to involve people experiencing emotions and a relationship getting complicated.

Breath of the Gods (limited release)
Documentary tracing the origins of modern yoga. I wouldn’t bend over backwards to see this one. lol

Fire In The Blood (limited release)
Another five-star film according to silly old me. This documentary exposes large pharmaceutical companies protecting their patents to such a degree that they prevent access to live-saving medicines for those who can’t afford it. This is an IMPORTANT FILMâ„¢

Crawl (limited release)
“A seedy bar owner hires a mysterious Croatian to commit murder, but a planned double-crossing backfires when a young waitress is taken hostage.” Australian horror. IMDb trivia includes: “The film was shot on location in 25 days.” Truly trivial.

The Road: A Story of Life & Death (limited release)
Documentary about people who, like me, live near the A5 in London but weren’t born in the city. Is this enough of a theme to tie the film together? No. Or at least I didn’t think so.

Kai Po Che (limited release)
“Three friends growing up in India at the turn of the millennium set out to open a training academy to produce the country’s next cricket stars.” Indian cricket cinema is such an overlooked genre.

Before Dawn (limited release)
British horror about a couple whose holiday is disrupted by the living dead. Center Parcs has really gone downhill recently.

Fire in the Blood – Film Review

Fire in the Blood

Fire in the Blood follows the scandal of governments blocking access to affordable AIDS medication to highlight the injustice inherent in the protection of patents on medicine by large pharmaceutical manufacturers. The documentary lays out the facts by speaking to those directly involved in the crisis – there are no spectators commentating from afar. We hear from a former pharmaceutical CEO who is now speaking out against the industry, the men who have fought to produce non-branded medicine at cost prices, and those suffering from AIDS; some of whom have access to drugs and some who do not.

While the drugs needed to manage the AIDS virus cost roughly $1 a day per patient the fact that the patents are held by large corporation means that the annual cost for a patient is thousands of dollars rather than hundreds. Some countries allow for the production of “generic” drug which are chemically identical without the hefty price tag but this is not available worldwide. Fire in the Blood acts to expose this global catastrophe in which prices of medicine in third world countries are dictated by what Americans can afford.

Fire in the Blood 1

The film has a strong opinion and is not shy about expressing it. Director Dylan Mohan Gray gets his point across deftly by letting those affected speak for themselves. No defence is offered because what is happening in the world of pharmaceuticals is indefensible. I think the film may have me convinced.

It’s tricky to review a documentary of this nature as I find myself talking more about the subject of the film rather than it’s quality. Following the screening I attended Gray held a Q&A for the assembled journalists and rather than talk about how the film was made the session quickly evolved into a passionate debate about the issue we had just been educated about. No one was taking the film lightly and at one point I thought two critics were going to have a fight. This did not happen at the King’s Speech press conference. The aim of Fire in the Blood is to inspire outrage in its audience and from the response I saw it is a roaring success.

Engrossing and important Fire in the Blood needs to be seen by as many people as possible and is on limited release in the UK from February 22nd.