An intricate tale of medicine, monopoly and malice, FIRE IN THE BLOOD tells the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governments blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs for the countries of the global south in the years after 1996 - causing ten million or more unnecessary deaths - and the improbable group of people...more
An intricate tale of medicine, monopoly and malice, FIRE IN THE BLOOD tells the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governments blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs for the countries of the global south in the years after 1996 - causing ten million or more unnecessary deaths - and the improbable group of people who decided to fight back. less
“Fire in the Blood is an informative and powerful documentary on a subject that needs our attention.”
In what now seems another lifetime I worked on a project that explored Gandhism in everyday life. Other than the ubiquitous non violence in the political world (think the Cold War, bringing down the Berlin Wall, Israel and the State of Palestine, non-violent political Islam , the legacy of the Khudai Khitmatgar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), we identified civil rights movement in the United States, activists that worked with indigenous Australians, and anti-nuclear campaigners the world over. I thought it was a fairly exhaustive study--even if contemporary Indian cinema would surprise us with MunnahBhai and the introduction of Gandhigiri into the lexicon.
This week I realised our work was still not done. Fire In the Blood, a film that explores how certain pharmaceutical companies continue to play around with patent laws and price wars leading to millions around the world dying (even when hope and health is just a "generic", "low cost" option away); is a chance to see how the legacy of Gandhi continues . The ties that bind the African continent and India didn't end with a lawyer sailing away from South Africa. Dylan Mohan Gray(the director of Fire In The Blood), goes through archival material that includes some very powerful testimonies of the actors involved in the pharma-political lobbying-international organizational nexus, interviews Yusuf Hamied--the chairperson of Cipla (the "socially conscious generic pharmaceuticals company") and the mainstay of this documentary so to say, he includes the voices of medical practitioners, and people whom these low cost drugs have saved; coming up with a documentary/"political film" that is accessible to an audience who may never have thought about these connections. What I like about this film that there are so many ways to approach it, yes it is a David vs. Goliath story as Cipla and its collegial networks take on the Western pharmaceutical companies with their legions of lawyers, their political lobbying and trade and industrial arm twisting. But it also makes you think of issues beyond the film, starting new conversations. For instance about Uganda and the Indian (forced) exodus, and how India (ns) returns with life saving ARV drugs. Of neo-imperialism and how certain United States agencies don't get it. A "Pakistan should do more" news headline shares space with "Drug Prices to Increase".
Fire In The Blood has won accolades in the festival circuit. But it is not for these reasons I would recommend you going out and watching it. Watch it so you have an opportunity to have an understanding of your own history and how certain powers don't need guns and tanks to control your world.