Fire in the Blood (2013 film)
|Fire in the Blood|
|Directed by||Dylan Mohan Gray|
|Produced by||Dylan Mohan Gray|
|Written by||Dylan Mohan Gray|
|Narrated by||William Hurt|
|Music by||Ashutosh Phatak|
|Cinematography||Jay Jay Odedra|
|Edited by||Dylan Mohan Gray|
|Running time||87 min.|
Fire in the Blood is a 2013 documentary by Dylan Mohan Gray. The film, which was shot across four continents, depicts the mass devastation brought about in Africa, Asia and other parts the global South due to intentional obstruction of low-cost antiretroviral drugs used for treatment of HIV/AIDS from reaching people in these countries, spearheaded by Western pharmaceutical companies armed with patent monopolies and the governments (above all those of the United States, European Union and Switzerland) doing their bidding. The documentary also shows how the battle against this blockade, estimated to have resulted in ten- to twelve million unnecessary deaths, was fought and (at least for the time being) won.
Fire in the Blood features contributions from former US President Bill Clinton, intellectual property activist James Love (NGO director), global health reporter Donald McNeil, Jr. of The New York Times, HIV/AIDS treatment activist Zackie Achmat, pioneering generic drugmaker Yusuf Hamied, former Pfizer executive-turned-whistleblower Peter Rost (doctor), leading African AIDS physician and chronicler of this "Genocide by Denial", Peter Mugyenyi, and Nobel Prize-laureates Desmond Tutu and Joseph Stiglitz.
The film is narrated by Academy-Award winning actor (and four-time Oscar nominee) William Hurt, who lent his iconic voice to the film on a pro bono basis because he felt the story and subject matter were so important.
The film is set in the late 90s and early 2000s. The director describes how protective patent laws enabled Western pharmaceutical companies to make antiretroviral drugs so costly that only the rich could afford them. This action claimed the lives of more than ten million AIDS sufferers in Africa and the global south.
- William Hurt (Narrator)
- Zackie Achmat
- Peter Mugyenyi
- Bill Clinton
- Desmond Tutu
- Yusuf Hamied
- Joseph Stiglitz
- James Love (NGO director)
- Edwin Cameron
- Peter Rost (doctor)
- Noerine Kaleeba
- George W. Bush
- Nelson Mandela
The Indian-Irish film director Dylan Mohan Gray first came to know of the issue in 2004, after he read an article in the The Economist about the battle between Big Pharma companies and the global public health community over access to lower-cost AIDS drugs for Africa. He decided to make the film three years later.
The film was shot from March 2008 to end 2010, while editing was completed in 2012.
Fire in the Blood was the first Indian film to be selected for the World Cinema Documentary Competition at 2013 Sundance Film Festival and subsequently participated in numerous leading film festivals in dozens of countries all over the world.
The film was released on iTunes UK Store in mid-2013, and worldwide (except for the USA and South Africa) on Video on Demand (VOD) via its website in May 2014. It released in the UK and India on DVD in the first quarter of 2014.
Thus far the film has been broadcast on television in the following countries, beginning in late 2013: Finland (YLE), Israel (Yes (Israel)), Norway (NRK), Spain (TVE), Switzerland (SRF), Austria (ORF), Poland (Telewizja Polska), Ireland (TG4), Brazil (Globosat) and Denmark (DR). Transnational broadcasters include AJE, Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Balkans.
Awards and nominations
WINNER—Justice Matters Award—27th Washington DC International Film Festival, April 2013
WINNER—Audience Award for Best Documentary—16th Fairy Tales International Queer Film Festival, Calgary, June 2014
- (November 2013) Fire in the Blood sets a new all-time record for the longest theatrical run by any non-fiction feature film in Indian history
- 1st non-fiction film on a global scale produced out of India (shot in 8 countries/4 continents)
- only feature-length Indian film to be selected in the main competition at a Top 5 international film festival between 2010 (Peepli Live) and 2014 (Liar's Dice)
- official selection at over 60 top film festivals in 40 countries (including Sundance, Rio, Valladolid, Mumbai, Vancouver, Washington, Tel Aviv, Thessaloniki, Sheffield, Hamburg, Zurich, etc.)
Message of caution
Fire in the Blood received very positive critical notices, both to its North American premiere in competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, as well as to its subsequent theatrical releases in Ireland, Britain, the USA and India.
The influential film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes had assigned Fire in the Blood a "92% fresh" rating based on 24 reviews as of January 2014. This ranks the film within the 5-10% best-reviewed films of 2013.
Certain critics, such as Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times, while acknowledging the enormous importance of the topic, felt the film should have taken a more emotional approach to its "incendiary subject". Many others, however, such as the legendary English critic Philip French, who in his review for The Observer described the film as "quietly devastating", praised Gray's choice in avoiding a polemical tone and allowing the material to speak for itself.
Writing in Sight & Sound, Ashley Clark called Fire in the Blood "stirring" and added "Gray deserves credit for his own restraint... Such is the clarity of his ideological stance that any grandstanding would feel redundant."
The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney echoed this view, stating that "the admirable balance between impassioned argument and clear-sighted reporting in Dylan Mohan Gray's chronicle of the why and how makes Fire in the Blood indispensable viewing", adding that the "very smart", "extremely moving" film is "a shocking account of international trade terrorism sanctioned by Western governments" and "a powerful documentary that demands to be seen by as wide an audience as possible."
Author John le Carré (who became involved with the issue of pharmaceutical company abuses while researching his landmark 2001 novel The Constant Gardener) called Fire in the Blood "a blessing... full of conviction, passion and unanswerable argument".
Australian journalist and documentary film maker, John Pilger wrote "Fire in the Blood is one of the most powerful, important and humane documentaries I have ever seen. It's the story of ordinary people standing up to unaccountable power. The struggle to save millions from the ravages of untreated HIV is revealed as a struggle against the new lords of the world, transnational corporations, their greed and lies. Genuine hope is rare these days -- you'll find it in this film."
Former (2001–06) United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said "I was enraged as I watched, thinking of those years I spent as the Envoy, watching people die. [...] I rarely watch 'AIDS documentaries'; they're remarkably repetitive as a rule, largely uninspired and yielding almost nothing new. [Fire in the Blood] is in a wholly different category; a terrific, riveting documentary... dramatic, compelling, but most of all, wonderfully humane. [Gray is] a remarkably gifted documentary film-maker."
Foreign Language versions
Subtitled versions of the film are available in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.
- Miriam Bale (September 5, 2013). "Where AIDS Steals Life by the Millions". New York Times. Retrieved Nov 8, 2013.
- Nandini Ramnath (Oct 3, 2013). "Fire in the Blood: Big Trouble for Big Pharma". Livemint. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
- "Fire in the Blood wins Best Political Film at Filmfest Hamburg".
- "In Fire in the Blood, It's Big Pharma vs. AIDS Patients".
- "Fire in the blood for Indian pharma firms". Business Standard. October 1, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
- "Fire In The Blood: Why this documentary is so important". CNN-IBN. Oct 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
- "Indian generics and AIDS". Frontline.
- "Fire In The Blood".
- "Indian Generics and AIDS".
- Sight & Sound, Review: Fire in the Blood, March 2013, p. 94.
- Letter from John le Carré to Dylan Mohan Gray, 2012