out of Five
Running time: 92
This powerful documentary about a young American man that went to India and devoted his life to taking care of children with HIV is awe-inspiring; the incredibly emotional footage shot over a five year period is by turns shocking, moving and heartbreaking.
What’s it all about?
Narrated and directed by Steve Hoover, Blood Brother tells the incredible true story of Hoover’s long-time best friend, Rocky Braat, a young American man who went to India and never came back. Travelling there as a tourist, Rocky (who never had a stable family life of his own) met a group of children with HIV and felt inspired to stay there and devote his life to looking after them in an Indian AIDS orphanage. At first upset about Rocky leaving his hometown of Pittsburgh behind for good, Hoover became inspired to visit him in India and document his life and the effects his kind nature was having on the children. Featuring a blend of archival footage of Rocky in his youth and present day footage of Rocky and Steve working in the village of Tamil Nadu, India, Blood Brother is the astonishing five year story of a truly selfless individual.
At first, Blood Brother is presented a little bit like a journal. With its candid and honest narration by Steve Hoover (which is charming and works wonderfully) and its personal archival footage, the documentary introduces the viewer to Rocky Braat, his background and his situation very well. From start to finish, it’s absorbing and engaging, thanks to its truly personal elements, strong and effective score, likeable subjects and, most admirably, its determination to portray the physical and emotional effects of HIV with an unflinching truth.
Unsurprisingly, it’s Rocky Braat and his courageous and selfless character that stands out the most in this documentary. Having become a father, brother, friend, cook, disciplinarian and teacher to these adorable and vulnerable children, Rocky’s devotion and altruism is so awe-inspiring that it’s rather humbling to watch. A truly astonishing and affecting moment in the documentary is when a young boy from the orphanage is admitted to hospital and comes close to death. At first, unable to open his eyes or speak because of the pain, the boy slowly returns to life thanks to Rocky’s commendable decision to sit by his side for four months and nurse him with incredible care. This is just one of the scenes in which Blood Brother is so touching and emotional, that it’s impossible not to feel moved whilst watching.
With its astonishing story and fantastic editing, Blood Brother is an extraordinary documentary that will shock, inspire and leave you close to tears. Highly recommended.