"“It’s not going to be a film you may want to see, but viewing is simply essential”"

It’s not impossible to imagine a situation in modern day society where a huge lie or cover-up is exposed and we as a nation of forward thinking people are appalled at the level of greed that those with power seem to have coursing through their veins on a daily basis. Recent tax avoidance scandals, child sex-abuse stories and the behaviour of corrupt politicians continue to make the headlines, whilst the public barely have time to absorb one story before another one comes tumbling out. Fire in the Blood however, is a film that will stop you dead in your tracks.

The film is essentially about how Western pharmaceutical companies prevent Africans from receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS by blocking the right for them to receive affordable ‘generic drugs’ that will potentially save their lives. To date, over 10 million people have died completely avoidable deaths because these companies don’t want to lose profit, and director Dylan Moran Gray is evidently furious about it, referring to the situation as ‘the crime of the century’. He could well be right.

Where How to Survive a Plague - David France’s impeccable AIDS activism documentary -  uses shocking imagery of AIDS victims to hit the message home, Gray tends to use facts and figures. The film is littered with stomach-lurching statistics, and whilst this doesn’t in any way take away the real humanity in the film, it can be hard to keep up for the average viewer, and often the more intricate details can be easily forgotten as one problem is quickly smothered with another. This is a shame as it prevents the film from being universally accessible, however the message itself is still loud and clear; something needs to be done to stop the injustice.

Despite the horrendous subject matter, there is a definite optimism in the film once the initial shock of the severity of the situation sets in. Talking head interviews with several incredible figures in medicine, activism and politics are humbling, inspiring and in some cases totally surprising (be prepared to agree with George Bush), and there’s a real sense of hope as small victories are rewarded in what is ultimately a David and Goliath tale. But there is still a lack of fulfilment by the end of the film, and it certainly lingers for a long time afterwards, because no matter how hard you wrack your brain, the fact of the matter is, there is no good reason why this is happening; except profit of course.

In terms of film making, it is certainly an activist film. Style is most definitely second to substance, but as the viewer it’s hard to care, as the pure shaking rage felt by those involved in the fight simply leaks on to the screen. It’s not going to be a film you may want to see, but viewing is simply essential.