Next up in Sundance’s 2013 World Cinema Documentary Competition: From India, Dylan Mohan Gray’s FIRE IN THE BLOOD, on the battle to secure affordable treatment for AIDS in the developing world.
Sundance Program Description:
In 1996, the development of antiretroviral drug therapies may not have cured AIDS, but the breakthrough made the disease treatable—if patients could afford the hefty price tag. For millions in the developing world, the cost kept essential medicines out of reach and meant they would continue to die. Hope came in the form of low-cost generic drugs manufactured in India and elsewhere, but pharmaceutical companies—favoring patents over patients and profits over the prevention of unnecessary deaths—threatened legal action against any company that dared circumvent their control of the market. The struggle to overcome this inconceivably greedy blockade—with literally life or death stakes—is at the heart of Dylan Mohan Gray’s absorbing documentary.
Gray uses the response to the AIDS crisis in Africa to reveal the power of the drug companies and the impact of their lobby on the federal government. The implications of their ability to effectively deny critical treatment based on economic inequities are more far reaching than any single disease.
Gray’s past film credits have been on fiction projects by renowned international auteurs like Peter Greenaway, Deepa Mehta, and Fatih Akin. This marks his feature documentary debut. Joining him as executive producer is Christopher Hird, who held the same role for Sundance alums THE FLAW (2011), THE END OF THE LINE (2009), and BLACK GOLD (2006).
Why You Should Watch:
As noted in my Sundance program description above, Gray’s focus may be AIDS in Africa, but the larger issue extends beyond any singular pandemic to consider the troubling fundamental lack of compassion and humanity shown by corporations driven by the profit motive. While making a powerful contribution to the history of HIV/AIDS, Gray perhaps just as importantly provides an indictment of economic inequality in the so-called “global marketplace,” offering an international perspective to issues also relevant to fellow 2013 Sundance titles INEQUALITY FOR ALL and CITIZEN KOCH.
View the film’s trailer on Vimeo. For more information, check out the doc’s website and Facebook page. For Gray’s thoughts on the film, check out his Meet the Artists profile for Sundance and his Indiewire interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.