'Blood Brother' Debuts at Sundance

The powerful documentary follows Rocky Braat, a young Pittsburgher who left his job to work at an AIDS orphanage in India.




 

Sometimes our friends do really cool things. Local filmmaker Steve Hoover’s best friend was that kind of guy.

Five years ago, Rocky Braat left his job and Pittsburgh for an excursion to India. Like many before him, he went in hopes of “finding himself”. He did so, unexpectedly, in an AIDS orphanage in the thriving city of Chennai.

He stayed for a month. As he said his goodbyes, the children asked when he would come back, calling him Rocky Anna (Tamil for brother). The connection rattled him. He was back with the children only a week later. He only left once more, at the end of that summer, and has remained there ever since — he lives in a hut, doles out anti retroviral medication, argues about his visa.

Hoover had to see his best friend’s new life for himself. Braat was his buddy from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, a roommate of seven years. They had begun their careers together. And, in a way, Hoover needed to find himself, too. He and his creative partner, Danny Yourd, were successfully working their way up the entertainment ladder. They had directed and produced national commercials and music videos. But that life, as Braat had also discovered, was always about the next step. So he joined his friend in India and began work on Blood Brother, a documentary about Braat's journey.

"I wasn’t interested in doing a fictional film," says Hoover. "I just didn’t have the desire for that." With Braat, "there was a good base story, but the experience made the story stronger. And I really love the medium. I love that the story I’m telling is real. I don’t have to manipulate it. That’s something I really connected to."

Hoover and Yourd (serving as producer) teamed up with a group including local production outfits Animal and Defacto Sound to put together the film.

This wasn't just any documentary effort, though. In a departure from industry norms, they were able to secure funding through Kickstarter, as well as donations of time and talent from around the area. (Hoover says that many of their monetary donations were local as well.)

In offering a larger group of people the chance to support a project like this, Hoover says, "You’re creating a community that supports the film. We’ve had great support the whole time we’ve been doing this — fundraising can be really special. It limits you to what resources you have. We couldn’t have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, but given the nature of our film, not just donating money, but time, made it possible."

All of the profits from Blood Brother will go directly back to Braat's efforts with affected children in India through the newly created nonprofit LIGHT (Living to Inspire Global Healing Today).

Of the overall experience, Hoover says, "I learned a lot about AIDS and HIV. I learned a lot about poverty. About how different life is in [other parts of the world] — the contrast between the rich and the poor is just so dramatic. When you’re amongst the poor there, it doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot of hope. I learned about how fortunate I am to be born where I was and raised the way I was. I just got a lot of perspective about my life and how I want to use my talents and time. I want to help people."

And now Hoover gets to be the friend who does really cool things. Blood Brother was one of 4,044 feature-length submissions for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, only 119 of which were selected. Blood Brother is one of only sixteen world premieres in the U.S. Documentary Competition.

“It’s really exciting," says Hoover. "It’s very"—he pauses—"it’s equally intimidating and stressful. The better the film does, the more we can do to make a difference."

Blood Brother will screen five times during the Sundance Film Festival, from Sunday through 1/26. For more info and showtimes, check bloodbrotherfilm.com

Watch: Blood Brother Christmas

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

We scoured the region to bring you 53 items we’ve deemed this year’s “Best of the ’Burgh,” as well as 8 stellar local Instagram accounts you don’t want to miss.
See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.
Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

The restaurant at Ace Hotel in East Liberty hits some high notes as it finds itself.
Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

During her final season of professional basketball, Cash remains ferocious on the court and selfless everywhere else.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Pittsburgh's Union Trust Building Renovated and Restored

Pittsburgh's Union Trust Building Renovated and Restored

The historic Downtown building reopens after a two-year, $100 million renovation.
The Section of Mystery: What’s behind the door?

The Section of Mystery: What’s behind the door?

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History opens new permanent exhibit featuring 3-D holograms.
Our JazzLive International Festival Cheat-Sheet

Our JazzLive International Festival Cheat-Sheet

We break down each day of the festival so you don’t have to improv your way through it.
Avatar-inspired Cirque Du Soleil Show Takes Off in Pittsburgh

Avatar-inspired Cirque Du Soleil Show Takes Off in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Magazine has a backstage view of “Toruk: The First Flight,” which runs this week at Consol Energy Center.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

We scoured the region to bring you 53 items we’ve deemed this year’s “Best of the ’Burgh,” as well as 8 stellar local Instagram accounts you don’t want to miss.
See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.
Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

The restaurant at Ace Hotel in East Liberty hits some high notes as it finds itself.
Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

During her final season of professional basketball, Cash remains ferocious on the court and selfless everywhere else.
Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Research led Kellee Maize to discover she is the daughter of the former teen singing sensation. Now she and McNichol are teaming up to develop a television series to help other parents and children find each other.
Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

One day, 18 roller coasters, four queasy stomachs, two cheeseburgers, one fried dough … whew.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Pittsburgh's Union Trust Building Renovated and Restored

Pittsburgh's Union Trust Building Renovated and Restored

The historic Downtown building reopens after a two-year, $100 million renovation.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino of Cure and Morcilla organized the event, which featured celebrated chefs from DC, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

The restaurant and bar in Oakland welcomes college students and locals alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Perspective Accompanies Long-Awaited Second Crosby Cup

Perspective Accompanies Long-Awaited Second Crosby Cup

The Pittsburgh Penguins may be more poised to establish a dynasty in 2016 than they were in 2009.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Vintage signs can add a pop of personality to your decor.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Reviews of "The Conjuring 2," "Warcraft," "Maggie's Plan," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
True to Tradition: Incorporating Your Heritage at Your Wedding

True to Tradition: Incorporating Your Heritage at Your Wedding

Honoring tradition at weddings is important for many couples, whether that means including heirlooms and unique customs or hosting a full-blown second ceremony.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Decor Calling: Home Furnishings Go Mobile

Decor Calling: Home Furnishings Go Mobile

House15143 is Sewickley debuts “House Calls,” a mobile Airstream designed to bring the shopping experience to you (or an event near you).

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

The camp is a collaboration between two area universities and is open to students entering grades 9-12.

Comments