The continuing AIDS crisis in Africa is the subject of this sobering and righteously angry documentary.
In this startling investigative documentary, director Dylan Mohan Gray attempts to shed light on what he aptly describes as 'the crime of the century'.
Fire In The Blood chronicles the ways in which inexpensive AIDS medicine has been patented by multi-million pound western pharmaceutical corporations, rendering it out of reach to the developing world at the cost of over eighteen million lives a year (and counting).
The film daringly explores the wider implications of this ugly capitalist landscape, name checking the pharmaceutical big guns perceived to be profiteering from the dead and dying.
The film opens with an enigmatic assessment of the destruction caused by this mysterious and devastating enemy – burial grounds, daily funerals and millions of casualties pertaining to over eight thousand deaths a day present a catastrophic picture which seems totally out of time, particularly given our place within the third millennium. These shocking statistics present the overwhelming scale of a humanitarian crisis presumed yesterday’s news, curiously revealed to be AIDS. Didn’t we sort that?
This apparently forgotten cause is seen as old news in the western world and while still incurable, is no longer perceived to be the death sentence it once was thanks to a medical breakthrough in 1996.
Enter Gray’s controversial discovery that today, only one in 2000 AIDS sufferers has access to the medical treatment required to survive the disease. It's readily available to the wealthy white westerner, but escalating and hugely inflated medical costs cement its unattainability to the developing world.
The film’s investigative angle highlights the injustices of a flawed, financially motivated pharmaceutical industry, going straight for the jugular of the greedy corporations in the profitable business of selling life.
Recent hits such as The Imposter and Searching For Sugar Man have rightfully put documentary back on the map as a genre with just as much potential to entertain as any fictional blockbuster. This task seems difficult here, given such sensitive subject matter and predictably, Gray avoids the 'edu-tainment' capabilities of the medium in favour of a vital but straightforward approach to factual filmmaking.
The film largely avoids sentiment, and to its only detriment, allows little time to contemplate the victims of such injustice, severing any emotional ties with the film’s human contingency in favour of a sobering factual frenzy. From the outset Gray’s voiceover tells us that 'this is a story about statistics', which is certainly how it feels in the film’s refusal to delve into any one individual’s tragic plight.
Fire In The Blood raises some provocative, ideological questions, but fundamentally an essential awareness of the injustices experienced by those at the bottom of a corrupt corporate food chain.
Medicine, monopoly, malice – intriguing.
Sobering and startling.
An illuminating angle on a forgotten crisis.