Filmmaker Thom Fitzgerald believes that HIV is a more pressing issue to humanity than international terrorism. 'We're going to look back on the lives lost'50 million? 100 million? a billion?'and all the tribes and languages eradicated by AIDS, and it will define our time,' he says, 'more than the fear of random violence.'
The Halifax, Canada, resident is the writer-director of 3 Needles, a star-studded film composed of three thematically interconnected stories that examine the vast international impact of HIV. Through the scope of Fitzgerald's lens, poverty is the driving force behind the epidemic. 'Money fuels the epidemic, period,' Fitzgerald says. 'And people put themselves at risk to make money to survive.'
In a segment set in China a black-market blood collection service run by a pregnant woman, played by Lucy Liu [at right], delivers more than just $5-a-liter payments to a desperate village of farmers. Stockard Channing gives a heartrending performance as a down-on-her-luck French Canadian waitress who makes a Faustian trade in order to care for her HIV-infected son. And Chlo' Sevigny's trademark luminous intensity lends itself well to the role of a circumspect novice nun who travels with her mission to South Africa in order to convert the dying to Catholicism only to find that what the devastated population really needs are resources to treat the virus.
Fitzgerald, who grew up around New York City, says he lost many friends to AIDS. He hopes his film will help people question the efficacy of Western approaches to HIV prevention.
'Strategies that have been somewhat effective in Europe and the Americas have completely failed in Africa. Everyone I met in South Africa knew a condom would protect them'but there weren't any condoms around.'
The DVD of 3 Needles was released in early April.