3 Needles Thom Fitzgerald

After a subtle yet warm showing at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, American-born Nova Scotian Thom Fitzgerald’s fifth feature film, 3 Needles, finally makes it to a limited release in major Canadian cities.

This release has been met with relatively little fanfare, which is unfortunate considering its potential. 3 Needles’ international release won’t even surface until December and features a second (and somewhat superior) cut of the film. However, the film, featuring a triumvirate of inter-cut stories about HIV/AIDS, is an ambitious and undeniably important film worthy of your time and thought through whatever method you manage to see it.

The three geographically disconnected stories illustrate the plethora of factors that play into HIV transmission: in China, Jin Ping (Lucy Lui) pays five dollars apiece to residents of a small village for their blood, lying to them about her intentions. When the entire village begins to fall seriously ill, farmer Tong Sam (Tanabadee Chokpikultong) investigates the crisis. In South Africa, nun Clara (Chloe Sevigny) is attempting to teach Catholicism to the dying before "it’s too late.” Yet her mission is diverted when she becomes interested in helping a family of orphans. In Canada, Montreal porn star Denys (Shawn Ashmore) passes his monthly blood tests by stealing blood from his father. He gets caught, which proves a serious problem for his poor family, particularly mother Olive (Stockard Channing).

The film attempts to draw correlations between the stories, portraying their commonalities rather than their differences. Fitzgerald doesn’t try and artificially sew the stories into a Crash-like ball of conclusiveness; they each stand on their own but work together to relay a ridiculously relevant message. Unlike the majority of its AIDS film predecessors, 3 Needles’ aim to educate is worthy and well informed. And while accuracy may take a backseat to melodrama, this does not stop 3 Needles from being a powerful piece of filmmaking. (Seville)