Thursday, January 29, 2015

"The Blood of Yingzhou District" tells the story of children orphaned by AIDS in China, caused when parents are forced to share needles to sell blood

The 40-minute documentary “The Blood of Yingzhou District”, by Ruby Yang (2006), presents a shocking picture of AIDS and HIV-disease in rural China, transmitted through the re-use of needles when parents sell blood for income.  The film is shot in a flat, winter landscape of poor villages in the province of Anhui in China, in the eastern part of the country at mid-latitude, about 200 miles in from the ocean. 
Much of the film focuses on one orphaned child, Gao Jun, who speaks at the end of the film when fed a flower plant by an uncle, HIV-infected himself, who has finally taken him in as a foster child. 
The film talks a lot about family responsibility and “filial” piety.  Other family members often wind up raising children orphaned by AIDS.  A few of the children presented in the film were infected themselves at birth.  All of the children are stigmatized in rural schools. 
The living conditions shown in the rural villages are indeed shabby and rather shocking, Toward the end of the film, there is discussion of attempts to get medication from the West for Chinese families in rural areas, presumably like protease inhibitors. 

The music is by Brian Keane, but includes a famous cello and piano passage by Bach.  
The official site is here, from Thomas Lennon Films and Cinema Guild.

I thought about the 1968 MGM film "The Shoes of the Fisherman", by Michael Anderson (based on the novel by Morris West), where the first Russian Pope (fictitious) settles a crisis (resembling the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962) by a deal to feed "starving Chinese", just dealing with Mao's Cultural Revolution. A Catholic friend, himself another graduate student with whom I saw the film, disagreed that this could even happen. The 1963 book had a very sympathetic passage about homosexuality in the Catholic Church that sticks in my mind.  
Wikipedia does not have a lot of images of the region; one of the closest would be the bridge in Fuhang, link here , p.d., not author given (Creative Commons 1.0).  But all the scenery in the film is rural.  The second picture is mine, winter in rural MD. 

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