"I watched this documentary one evening by myself. I was always one of those people that did not want to get into drugs and alcohol. I was always the safe one. When HIV/AIDS started popping up everywhere, I did my own research. This movie is like living Bob Bowers life. Watching him live his life with HIV and be able to love at the same time. His wife is amazing. She helps him keep his chin high through all of this and gives him hope. This is a true documentary. I honestly wish that schools would show this movie to kids in MS/HS. It definitely gave me a new vision of the life." ~ as reviewed on Amazon Prime
The Fire Within is a compelling feature-length documentary film chronicling a year in the life of long-term AIDS survivor Bob Bowers. Bob was infected in 1983 at the age of 20 due to a one-time decision to share a needle. He met Shawn in 1990 and in spite of his disease they married six months later. The film was shot in 2000 and features Shawns participation in a 7-day, 575-mile bike ride as she tries, in some measure, to replicate Bobs everyday battles and victories. Gritty, raw and very real, The Fire Within is not only a movie about surviving AIDS; this is a movie about thriving regardless of the circumstances. The film parallels the struggles, challenges, and fortitude of two incredibly passionate, inspiring and vibrant souls.
"A MUST SEE. This film is a powerful parallel of life’s struggles. It is a mix of life, learning, laughter and love. Bob is a true fighter dealing with HIV and it’s day to day struggles while his partner Shawn is challenging herself to ride the California AIDS ride. This movie truely teaches us tomorrow is not promised to anyone and everyday is a gift." ~ as reviewed on Amazon Prime
~ as reviewed on Amazon Prime
~ as reviewed on Amazon Prime
From Director, Leanne Whitney:
The Fire Within (2002), a feature-length documentary I directed on the subject of life in the face of death—told through the experiences of a man grappling with what used to be a terminal illness—and what remains a leading cause of death for 25-44 year olds—AIDS. The film chronicles a year in Bob Bowers life alongside his wife Shawn's participation in a 575-mile bike ride, as she tries, in some measure, to replicate Bob’s everyday battles and his everyday victories.
Reviewed by Chael Needle
Directed by Leanne Whitney
August Moon Entertainment
Premiering on The Documentary Channel on June 6, The Fire Within is a frank and intimate look at two people who love and care for each other: one positive, one negative, both resilient.
The film, first released eight years ago, follows Bob Bowers [A&U, May 2009], an AIDS educator and activist, as he struggles to find a new combination therapy. His virus is drug-resistant and, as physician Dr. Bisher Akil tells him, he is down to two treatment options. The toll of the side effects, Bob says, has been emotional, spiritual, and physical. Before settling on the couch for the first interview, he vomits and washes up. Vomits again. “Welcome to my world,” he says. Later, Bob details the body aches, diarrhea, myalgia, and the neuropathy that forces him to use a wheelchair. The new combo that he eventually chooses, Sustiva, is causing mental strain; for a while, he sleeps with a gun close at hand.
The director also shows how managing HIV can be a “full-time job,” as Bob calls it. It’s not just taking twenty-four pills a day, as Bob does, or the tax on the body; it’s the work of weighing choices and making decisions; the work of soul-searching; and the work of nurturing a relationship where the other person often acts as a caregiver.
That person is Shawn, his wife at the time, who fell in love and married knowing that she was getting into a “relationship with Bob and HIV.” She was attracted to Bob’s vivaciousness and boyishness; his joie de vivre awakened what had been dead in her and energized her to work through her own “shit,” as she tells it. The film follows her as she participates in the seven-day AIDS/LifeCycle Ride, which is a San Francisco to Los Angeles cycling fundraiser. (The premiere coincides with the start day of this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle.) Though not an endurance athlete, Shawn wants to experience a “hint” of what her husband goes through. Bob works as crew in order to support her. Some days go somewhat well; some not-so-well. Shawn begins to doubt what accomplishing this goal actually means.
By the end, Bob wonders if he should switch to a salvage therapy; Shawn wonders if she should keep riding. Decisions are made, and, as always, Shawn and Bob articulate their thoughts and feelings with the clarity that comes with honest reflection. The director has captured something about resilience—it’s not particularly pretty; it’s not particularly transcendent. Resilience is a day-in, day-out struggle—its beauty comes from confronting the fact that life can sometimes get ugly and wear you down.
The Fire Within is now available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
" Jefferson Middle School students first notice Bowers' tattoos and muscles. But it's his sensitivity and blunt delivery that get his point across."
"Long-Term Survivors are defined as having a HIV/AIDS diagnosis before 1996. They share those earliest and darkest years of the epidemic when there were no effective treatments. Effective treatments were available in 1995-96. Protease inhibitors transformed HIV infection from a “death sentence” to a more chronic but manageable condition."
Gritty, raw and very real, The Fire Within is a compelling feature-length documentary chronicling a year in the life of long-term AIDS survivor Bob Bowers.
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Bob Bowers aka One Tough Pirate
Houston, Texas - All Rights Reserved.
Never ever surrender!