(This post has been updated. See below.)
Director Steve Hoover's documentary feature debut, "Blood Brother," is an uncomplicated hagiography of his friend Rocky Braat, a caretaker for
Many of Braat's charges die, while the healthier children are stigmatized for their disease. One little girl recounts how her mother took an "abortion injection" in an attempt to kill her in the womb upon realizing the baby might be born with
The routineness of catastrophe eventually sends Braat into such a tailspin that he endeavors to marry a villager to soothe himself. But he can't date her — nor, it turns out, can they communicate. Braat's botched attempts to make her laugh are as painful to watch as anything in the film.
Hoover's stubbornly ground-level perspective renders the documentary's lack of context about HIV in India — or even the funding behind the AIDS orphanage where Braat works — rather frustrating. But "Blood Brother" feels important anyway, not so much as a snapshot of one volunteer but for its passionate portrayal of the curative powers of love — a resource much too scarce in this world.
(Update: An earlier version of this post misspelled the last name of director Steve Hoover as Hooper.)
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Playing: Laemmle's Royal, Los Angeles.