Friday, February 15, 2013

Director Dylan Mohan Gray on his new documentary 'Fire in the Blood'

"What drove me to spend so many years working on Fire in the Blood knowing, even in the worst, loneliest moments, that this would almost certainly be the most important thing I would ever do in my life…" Dylan Mohan Gray, director of Fire in the Blood, which will screen EXCLUSIVELY at the IFI (February 21st - 28th), discusses why he felt he had to make this film and why he is particularly pleased it will screen in Ireland. 

I tend to be a fairly laconic character, but must confess that I was truly thrilled when I heard that the Irish Film Institute would be screening my film, Fire in the Blood, over the course of eight days in February. In fact, I insisted on coming for opening night, because somehow I have long suspected that people in Ireland would, and will, really and truly connect with the story and message of this film. More times than I can count I have met Irish people working on health projects in different parts of Africa, in particular with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), and have invariably been deeply impressed with the energy, fierce commitment and good humour with which they were fighting the good fight for global public health and basic human rights. A few people have also mentioned to me lately that Ireland is home to Europe’s largest pharmaceutical industry, at least on a per capita basis, and that possibly adds another wrinkle to the great sense of anticipation I feel in bringing this film to audiences in Dublin.

Fire in the Blood has been a nearly six-year journey for me, though its roots go back at least a few more years before that, to an article I read in Sri Lanka back in 2004. Initially I had no intention whatsoever of making a film on this subject, but started reading obsessively about it out of pure curiosity, and soon found myself deeply shocked and angered… first of all because I was ashamed to admit I knew virtually nothing about what was clearly an episode of immense historical significance, and secondly because such scant attention had been paid to it, that no book or film provided a comprehensive account of it, and that the entire story was quickly fading into the mists of time, virtually without a trace.    


Fundamentally, however, what made me see that there was a great film in all this, what caused me to lay awake thinking about it and finally one day to take the fateful decision to try and make it, despite having no expertise in non-fiction, was my enduring fascination with the ins and outs of the story, and more importantly the incredible cast of characters who played key roles in it.  

That is what drove me to spend so many years working on Fire in the Blood  knowing, even in the worst, loneliest moments, that this would almost certainly be the most important thing I would ever do in my life… for me this film has so many fascinating and inspirational aspects which take it far beyond the realm of HIV/AIDS, of global public health, world trade, commerce and even the wider field of human rights.  This is a story about money and power, how we treat one another as human beings, but also how any single one of us can rise above the cynicism and casual inhumanity which surrounds us all the time and decide to change the world for the better, no matter how daunting the adversary. Even after so many years, I still find that idea incredibly uplifting and empowering.    

Dylan Mohan Gray will attend the opening night screening at 18.20 on February 21st and take part in a Q&A. Book now or call the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477.

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