Director: Dylan Mohan Gray
Starring: Bill Clinton, Desmond Tutu, Zackie Achmat, James P. Love, Yusuf Hamied, Peter Mugyenyi
Synopsis: An intricate tale of “medicine, monopoly and malice”, FIRE IN THE BLOOD tells the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governments blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs for the countries of the global south in the years after 1996 – causing ten million or more unnecessary deaths – and the improbable group of people who decided to fight back.
FIRE IN THE BLOOD has been on the tip of everybody’s tongue since it first premiered a few weeks ago at Sundance Film Festival. Do not make assumptions of this film based on things you have heard online, because FIRE IN THE BLOOD is so much more than online hype.
FIRE IN THE BLOOD tells the story of how people around the world- from the upper class to the slums of third world countries- all joined together to fight vigorously to make sure that poor countries could get low cost AIDS drugs. We see different stories, from a chief justice judge to a body builder, all living with AIDS. We also see world figures featured, from Bill Clinton to Desmond Tutu. The documentary looks at the long journey to make AIDS drugs more affordable, and how a group of people won in the end.
Director Dylan Mohan Grey has managed to capture something incredibly special for his first feature film. While it could have been easy to go down the scary preachy route, he looks at the facts AND the stories of the people affected by the Western pharmaceutical companies. The hard work in this film shows, and it is going to go down as one of the most important documentaries of the last 10 years.
There are two parts that will absolutely infuriate when watching the documentary, mainly down to the contribution of two US presidents. Bill Clinton, who has a charity which works with AIDS sufferers in third world countries, was President when these issues arose, and nothing seemed to be done It was not until George Bush took over as President, where cheaper drugs were brought forward and millions of lives were saved. Do not get us wrong, Clinton has done so much for charity, but no one can be forgiven for making George Bush of all people look like a hero. Yeah, a story where Bush is seen as a hero, who would have thought it?
The second part being that we are also affected over in the Western worlds. We might have been blinded by the fact that we have a free health service, but we are still paying thousands for drugs that can be produced for hundreds. Do you remember the advert that was aired in the UK a few months back, where the man pulled the rat out of his mouth because he did not buy a normal prescription? The big pharmaceutical company paid for this. An ad, seemingly to look like buying drugs online was bad, was actually an advert to scare people from buying low costing drugs.
With the infuriating parts come the absolutely inspiration parts. Like the story of Zackie Achmat, an activist with AIDS who refused to take medicine until it was available to all. His story went so global that Nelson Mandela went to visit him to try and take the anti viral drugs, but even he could not convince him. Achmat’s story and others through out are the most heart clenching, and if it does not bring a tear to your eye, I do not know what will.
The film is going to make you angry, but it is supposed to. Over 10 million people died due to Western pharmaceutical companies and governments blocking affordable drugs, and it could have been easily prevented. Yusuf Hamied describes the situation as “genocide” and FIRE IN THE BLOOD shows just how true that is. With the sadness also comes the story of fight, passion and how the most unlikely group of people took on the biggest companies and governments in the world. Everybody needs to sit down and watch FIRE IN THE BLOOD.
FIRE IN THE BLOOD is released on the 22nd February. Find out even more information about the film by clicking along here.