Fire in the Blood, 2012.
Written and Directed by Dylan Mohan Gray.
An exploration of how the Western pharmaceutical companies have created a monopoly over medicine. Dylan Mohan Gray’s investigation spirals outward from the AIDS crisis on the African continent when PHARMA companies blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs.
As a medium for entertainment, in the hands of skilled filmmakers the art form can simultaneously entertain and inform. It can provide a voice to those who have something to say of social importance, and which acts as a record of who we are, not as individual nationalities but as an international community. If alligators eating their young is a shocking thought to us, what does that say about us when our governments allow PHARMA companies to profit off the deaths of 18 million unnecessary souls?
The title of the documentary is ironic, as Fire in the Blood is a compelling and provocative piece of filmmaking, stirring the fire in the blood of any ethical viewer. Gray wastes no time in provoking the idealist in us, stirring our humanity with sound bites that describe how the loss of life through the AIDS crisis in Africa was unnecessary, former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s analogy of people in the third world “dropping like flies”, and a particular powerful line about how our inability to step up to the severity of the problem was, “a moment of not being human.”
The narrator describes the film with shocking accuracy; shocking because it reflects the true value of life, of how little we have progressed in embracing equality, of conquering the divides which run through the international community despite the efforts of men and women of conscience. “If it is true that one death is a tragedy, and a million deaths a statistic, this is the story about statistics.”
Gray explores with uncompromising tenacity how AIDS is not a death sentence unless you were poor or non-Caucasian. The fascinating element of Gray’s approach to the subject of monopoly over medicine is the way he weaves together a multitude of perspectives to even include views that express the understanding of PHARMA as a business, and the necessary compromise required to preserve life whilst allowing the business model to survive, or to be more dramatic apply the term of capitalist sentiments to play Russian Roulette with the lives of millions.
Gray builds his documentary to a foreboding crescendo, a warning of a predicament that threatens each and every one of us, with PHARMA’s exploitation already spreading beyond the developing world to its largest market, the U.S. The final note is a plea to us all, that only if there is enough pressure can we curb PHARMA’s exploitative intentions.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Paul Risker is co-editor in chief of Wages of Film, freelance writer and contributor to Flickering Myth and Scream The Horror Magazine.