Blood Brother Review - The Story of Rocky Braat and The Orphans He Loves

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Blood Brother, from Roco Films and Tugg Inc, brings to the screen the story of Rocky Braat, a wandering soul who found life among the abandoned, dispossessed, orphaned AIDS children of Tamil Nadu, India.

Directed by Steve Hoover, Blood Brother was written by Tyson Vanskiver and Phinehas Hodge. Hoover, a lifelong friend, interweaves his story of Braat and as the film progresses his personal reactions to life among the displaced in Tamil Nadu, India.

Blood Brother details the ravages of AIDS on the children and an American, a graphic design artist from Pennsylvania, who on a whim decides to travel to India and found his calling.

Rocky Braat grew up in Pittsburgh. He came from an abusive home. His mother was an addict and lived with a series of abusive men. Rocky witnessed and suffered abuse. He did not know his father until age seven. He described himself, half joking, as a “real SPED.” A special education student, who struggled through high school and through some miracle he got it together, graduated and enrolled in an Art design school where he met Steve Hoover.

The two became fast friends, Rocky was trying to build life out of broken pieces, and he and Hoover were both incrementally moving forward.

Finding employment on a national magazine, with his past securely packed away, hidden and out of sight, Rocky was progressing and still there was an emptiness in his soul, a void. So he quit his job and decided to travel.

India, of any nation has the largest amount of AID/HIV orphans with approximately four million documented cases. The stigma attached to AIDS, may have softened in more progressive nations, like the United States, unfortunately third world nations such as India, have seen an increase in AIDS related discriminationand shunning.

India’s caste system regulates AIDS/HIV children to the lowest, the cast out, those whom society tosses like yesterday’s garbage. 

Blood Brother doesn’t shy away from depicting the truth, the children are real, the life and death situations genuine, and the way of life authentic.

It is emotionally difficult situation for any person, for nations, for NGO’s, governments, leaders of the world advanced economies and nations to witness the poorest, those through no fault of their own are now dying of a disease that stigmatize them.

The children of Blood Brother are charming and truly tug at the heartstrings. Seeing this man, who in reality, would be a cog in the American wheel, someone who would work hard and probably play harder, from blue collar, Pennsylvania, finding genuine meaning from a life of serving, becoming a protector, a father, a friend to those who are friendless, homeless and fatherless is inspirational.

Braat lives in the slums of India and has come face with face with the realities of HIV/AIDS. The children, whom he has invested time, who greet him with warm smiles, who call him affectionately Rocky-Anna, are dying. AIDS does not discriminate.

Blood Brother is brutally graphic in showing the ravages of AIDS. Open sores, where the skin has split apart, the beautiful face of a happy, lovely child, caked over by sores, his eyes sealed shut by mucus, and to the boy, who has no father, no person to comfort him, to care, we see Rocky Braat, the outcast in America, the loner, gently washing the wounds, feeding, soothing the skin until one day, months later, the child, who was, according to the physician, as good as dead, walked out of the hospital a son with the loner now a father.

Blood Brother was fully funded by Kickstarter and has won numerous festivals including the 2013 Sundance Audience and Grand Jury Prizes.

Blood Brother is worth seeing.

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