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Saturday, May 04, 2013

Sean Kelly

Hot Docs 2013: My Thoughts on Blood Brother

Blood_Brother

There comes a moment in everyone’s lives when they reach a crossroads.  While many people end up living normal and mundane lives, others find a greater calling.  Blood Brother tells the story of Rocky Braat, who decided to move from Pittsburgh to India, in order to help out at a hostel for women and kids with HIV.

Rocky is the best friend of the film’s director Steve Hoover.  As shown in a little animation at the beginning, Rocky always had a caring spirit and, when he was a child, he decided to care for his injured cat, instead of euthanizing it.  In return, the cat ended up living for many more years.  Rocky initially travelled to India as a lark, but he fell in love with the kids at the HIV care centre and decided to pack everything up and move to the country.  While in India, Rocky has to face challenges such as immigration issues, prejudice by villagers, and of course, the fact that many of these kids with HIV will not survive.

Blood Brother just goes to show that it does not take much for your entire life to change.  The film actually begins with Rocky returning to Pittsburgh, after his VISA was rejected.  By this time, Rocky had gotten so accustomed to living in India, that he felt a major disconnect when he returned to America.  Rocky eventually returns to India and it is instantly apparently how much Rocky has become to these kid’s lives.  When he arrives back at the hostel, the kids come running and crowd around Rocky.  Despite being the only white person in the village, Rocky has tried his best to fit in, which includes living in the exact same conditions as everyone else, as opposed to an Americanized living quarters.

You almost forget at times that these kids that love Rocky so much are HIV positive.  The kids have to regularly take a cocktail of drugs to stay alive, including anti retroviral (ART) medications that can extend their lifespans to virtually normal.  There is a very hard to watch section of the film when one of these kids gets deathly sick and spends many days in the hospital.  However, as upsetting as this can be, it also shows how caring a person Rocky is, since he stays at the kid’s bedside and cares for his sores, without any concern about catching HIV himself.

Rocky also has to cope with much prejudice from villagers, especially when they blame him for the death of a sick girl he was driving to the hospital.  The villagers are highly religious and believed that the girl would’ve still been alive if she was kept in the temple.  There was also additional bias against Rocky, and the kids, once the villagers found out that the kids, who were going to school in the village, had HIV.  It’s quite apparent throughout the film that there is a major anti-AIDs bias in India, though the film doesn’t go into too much detail.

The film concludes with Rocky getting married to an Indian women in the village and it is quite obvious that he is in India to stay.  Overall, I thought that Blood Brother was a heart-warming, and sometimes upsetting, film about a young man, who gave up life in the western world for a much more meaningful existence.

 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).