Sunday, November 3, 2013

An Interview with Steve Hoover: Blood Brother Filmmaker by Pamela Powell

“Blood Brother” is a touching story about a remarkable young man, Rocky Braat.  Rocky, aka Rocky Anna (Brother), leaves everything and everyone he knows in the US  and travels to a remote part of India in order work in a shelter for children with AIDS.  Upon his return to the US, it is evident that India and its children are calling him back.  Rocky’s best friend, Steve Hoover, through the art of filmmaking, attempts to understand Rocky’s life decision to stay in India.  The film delves into the his mindset and addresses the perils he and “his children” face.  

“Blood Brother” is a story that will open your eyes to what is happening half way across the world.  We learn that children are just children no matter where they are located.  We also learn that one person, through love and compassion, can have an impact on many.  Without the curiosity of Steve Hoover and his initial inability to understand his friend’s decision to live in India, many would continue on, ignorant of the trials and tribulations of these children.  Through this film, funds have been raised as well as awareness to truly make a difference.  

Who would go to such lengths to understand a friend?  Luckily, Steve Hoover would.  Seeing the world through his eyes adds just that much more insight and depth to understanding "Blood Brother."  Steve “didn’t really think anything of [Rocky’s] first trip...”  In fact he thought it was just another adventure for Rocky.  Steve declined an invitation to join him on this initial trip and was then quite surprised that Rocky had decided to move permanently to India.  Admittedly, Steve “wasn’t particularly excited for him...and had a suspicion that it wouldn’t last or that he wouldn’t muster the courage to actually make it happen.”  You see, Rocky had moved to other places such as L.A., AZ, AK, and obtained other transient jobs, but had always returned back home;  Pittsburgh had become home.  Now, with Rocky’s intention to marry an Indian girl, Steve needed to see for himself what drew Rocky away from his home in Pittsburgh to India.

Steve, along with his family, were all quite curious about Rocky’s decision to return and remain in India.  The Hoover family knew Rocky well as he had spent many holidays with them.  Rocky’s own family was quite broken and he had no strong attachments except to his grandfather.  Steve feels that Rocky’s past is the impetus for his "empathy for the kids,” but his connection and love of these children in India is now much stronger and a main focal point in his life.  Steve’s family completely supported their son’s decision to travel to India, make the film, and better understand his best friend’s decision to move half-way across the world.  However, there was concern about traveling abroad to such a remote area.  

Steve’s family wasn’t out of line with their concerns.  Steve expressed that there were many difficulties encountered such as the intense heat without relief.  But the real difficulty was “being face to face with needless self-preservation while a child is ravished by the side effects of HIV on a bed in front of you...”  Drawing a line between being a human with compassion and a filmmaker is also a difficult place to be, especially when dealing with AIDS.  He set the camera down to hold a child’s hand who was suffering.  Something he would never have done prior to this trip and seeing Rocky as a role model.  The difficulties continued on more of an emotional level as Steve witnessed “watching an old mother lose control, beating herself, pulling out her hair and flailing on the ground after losing her precious 7 year old daughter” die an unnecessary death.  These are difficulties that he couldn't have anticipated.    

Steve and his film have traveled to many film festivals and is now expanding their grassroots theatrical campaign.  Raising funds to help Rocky and his endeavor is one of the primary goals of this film.  There have been personal donations as well as “a rally campaign to raise money for a year’s supply of milk and eggs...”  Funds have also been used for computer classes that Rocky teaches in the village along with a photography class at the orphanage.  In addition, unfortunately, “there are always surprise medial expenses” that requires funds.  Although a follow-up documentary isn’t planned, Steve will keep people updated with Rocky and the children’s progress through various social media outlets.

Yes, one person can make a difference, but one person and a friend can make an even bigger difference. The proceeds from the film will help to build a halfway home with subsidized rent.  This will enable these independent young adults to then stay together.  In addition, “another immediate plan is to start small businesses for the kids to operate when they are of age.”  Fair jobs, fair hours, and appropriate intensity of work is of the utmost importance when dealing with the condition of AIDS.  

Steve now has an understanding of Rocky and his connection to these children.  Initially, Steve couldn’t comprehend the situation and therefore didn’t support it.  After this experience, Steve feels that not only does he understand Rocky, but that he can be a better friend.  Rocky continues to make a difference in the lives of mothers and children in India suffering from AIDS.  Steve Hoover is more than just Rocky’s friend.  He’s more than just a filmmaker.  He is the vehicle for Rocky to make tremendous changes in lives, raise awareness, and increase understanding of those around us. 

For more information about helping Rocky and “his kids,” go to   Blood Brother Information
For a review of this film, go to Blood Brother Film Review

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