Amir here. When Steve Hoover's debut Blood Brother, won both the audience and jury prizes at this year's Sundance Film Festival, it automatically became one of my most anticipated documentaries of the year. Lucky for me, I didn't have to wait long to see it. Hot Docs brought it to Toronto. Having now seen the film twice, crying through and laughing with it both times, I am confident this is one of the year's best films and deserves all the plaudits that will come its way.
Blood Brother is a personal close-up of the director's best friend, Rocky - affectionately referred to by Indian children as "Rockyanna" - who has spent the past few years living in India in an orphanage where HIV-positive children and women are cared for. It is a character study of a man whose strength, humility and grace are unparalleled. Needless to say, the environment of the film is absolutely heartbreaking, particularly at the climax where we follow the story of a young boy named Surya and his experience with AIDS. What I didn't expect, however, was to leave the film filled not with sadness, but with joy and a new found appreciation for every little moment of my life. Hoover's film is anything but a tear-jerker. It maintains a fine balance between "extreme joy and extreme pain", as he put it, and in that balance finds a way straight to our hearts.
On the occasion of Blood Brother's Hot Docs premiere, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Steve Hoover for a chat. Understandably, most of you haven't had the chance to see it yet and the intimate details of the films discussed here probably won't mean as much to you as they do to me, but this film is an absolute must-watch. I hope you'll seek it out and check back on this interview again then.
AMIR: I’ll admit upfront that I’m a bit jealous of you, both because you’ve made such a wonderful film at such a young age and because you get to be friends with Rocky.
STEVE HOOVER: Thanks! You know, I’m 30. You still have a few years to get here.
AMIR: I’m not optimistic about my chances! But let’s get to your story. I want to ask you a bit about your relationship with Rocky prior to the film...