Thursday, January 18 , 2018, 6:08 pm | Fair 60º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Blood Brother’

This true story, documented by his friend, portrays Rocky Braat's discovery of love as the source of meaningful life

4 Stars — Inspiring

Some people like their jobs, and some people tolerate having to go to work. Finding complete fulfillment in what you do every day is a rare experience, but it is beautifully tied together in the true story of Rocky Braat, a young man looking for approval and love and finding it in the most unusual place.

After coming out of a completely dysfunctional family where love was a rare commodity, Rocky (a name given to him by his grandfather because he thought his real name was too feminine) sought to do what many young men do — he traveled to distant countries in search of the ever-elusive meaning in life. Along the way in the Tamil Nadu state of southern India, Rocky had a profound life-changing experience when he stumbled upon a home for kids with HIV/AIDS, most of whose parents had died of the disease.

What he discovered about these kids changed everything about how he defined what is important in life, learning the power of love, touch, listening and affirmation. Here were young boys and girls who lived in rejection from the rest of society, and who carried a disease feared by others in much the same way that leprosy was feared in the time of Jesus.

With a Christ-like outpouring from his heart, Rocky fell in love with these bright faces and risked everything to let them know that they were loved, that they could be affirmed and touched by a stranger.

The story of Blood Brother begins with Rocky's best friend from back in the States when he learns that his buddy is returning to the United States due to an expired visa. Steve Hoover meets Rocky upon his return, and in an attempt to understand what his friend is going through, he follows him around with a camera to capture his story. Lost and longing to return to India, Steve decides to go to India as well and document the work that Rocky is doing.

What we all discover is a passion that will bring you to tears. When Steve and Rocky turned this travelogue into a film, it won last year's Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Blood Brother is about Rocky's life and his uncovering the secrets to serving others. In reality, though, this is the story of each child that Rocky encounters. Every one of these children is a priceless gift, and yet they live in a world that treats them as a problem to be solved or a disease to be isolated for the good of everyone else. What we witness through Rocky's growing compassion is a view into the soul of each child of God, and in so doing, we marvel at the love and joy that they possess. For anyone who has ever been around children like this, it places a compelling call on your life to play an active role in healing their broken world.

Whatever was broken in Rocky's life back in the U.S., it is miraculously healed by the outpouring of love he receives from his new family of outcasts. Rocky's story ends for us with his marriage to a local woman from India who comes into his life with a compassion for the work he is doing.

In a very simple way, Blood Brother makes a real statement about the power of God's transforming love and what it means to "love your neighbor as yourself." Rocky's story is living proof that regardless of your background, you can be a profound friend to others in need, even if today you don't know who they are.


» As you've made your own life journey, what have you found to provide meaning and purpose to each day and your life as a whole? If you are still seeking the answer to this, where have you turned to find an answer?

» Although we often speak of the power of love, we recognize that there are several forms of love, some of which bring us pain while others provide a deep fulfillment. What forms of love have you personally experienced?

» Rocky's journey is credited in the film by the words "to Jesus who made it all possible." To whom do you credit the journey you are taking?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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