Pharmaville – Fire in The Blood Review
Coming to The Showroom for one night only, Fire in the Blood is the tale of pharmaceutical companies, and – suprise! – the rest of us, screwing over an entire continent and being responsible for millions of deaths. All in the name of profit, isn’t capitalism great?
Well, yes, capitalism can be great. I always know when I buy a pint of Guinness that (apart from the water content that most bars can’t seem to fix) it’ll always taste the same, I know that a McDonalds’ burger will always be available (even if they do taste like fried leather) and I always know that corrupt regimes can be outspent into oblivion freeing people from oppression. However, I do expect companies to draw the line between fleecing me and denying lifesaving products from those who couldn’t afford them with a year’s wages.
That’s the story of Fire in the Blood, how “Big Pharma” (as they are termed by opponents) used international law and political contributions to block medication that could save lives. The film is a documentary chronicling the 1990s and early 2000s and the actions of these companies and the campaigners working against them.
The film features interviews with an Archbishop (Tutu) and a couple of Presidents (Clinton and Mandela), which serves to underline how this isn’t just a film from people with a fringe cause. It’s a story you’re probably aware of, but only from an occasional filler news item. It's been called a revelation and eye opening. I disagree: it’s an enraging film.
It’s only on tonight, and well worth time out of your evening to see. I could write a thousand words about the plot, detailing every interview; however the strength of the film is the experience of it. The quiet pauses to comprehend the massive statistics, each number of which was a life before some suit in a boardroom decided it might hurt the net profit in a few years time, contrasts to the damning testimony of world leaders and notable figures.
This is documentary film making as it is supposed to be done. It’s all about the issue, not about box office takings or celebrity, are you listening Michael Moore? In fact the very last screen of the film begs the audience for there not to be a sequel, to fix the problem so there’s no need for a follow-up.
For some unknown reason this film has received an 18 rating from the BBFC. I don’t recall any nudity or severe language, so I can only imagine it got this rating because the truth hurts. If it were up to me I’d make this mandatory viewing at secondary schools.
Go see it, or don’t bother. The real tragedy of this issue isn’t the millions of people that have died, and it’s not even the millions more that will die; it’s the apathy of those of us living pampered lives. The West Wing has been off the air for nearly a decade, and they did an episode on this. People have been aware of this since I was in school and no-one’s fixed it. While we’ve been buying iPhones and PlayStations, people have been dying, we’ve done nothing as people aware of it and the drugs companies have shored up their control.
Fire in the Blood screens tonight at The Showroom at 6pm. More info here.