Review: A good documentary can start as nothing more than a thought or a question. With cameras rolling, the filmmaker digs into the thought or question, he finds people who have the information he is looking for and he gets them on film. Sometimes, he finds something odd, something completely unexpected. If he does, and if he handles the unexpected correctly, he can end up with a fantastic documentary. This is what happened to Director Brent Leung. He handled the unexpected correctly and House of Numbers turned out to be a fantastic documentary.
The question Leung had as he started his documentary was, what’s the truth about HIV/AIDS? As a young filmmaker, Leung had never lived in a world without HIV/AIDS. Yet there was still so much about HIV/AIDS that didn’t make sense or was unknown. With nothing more than his curiosity and a camera, Leung set out to find the answers that seemed so elusive.
House of Numbers reveals some rather startling facts about HIV/AIDS. So startling in fact that I have trouble believing them. That’s not to say that I think Leung is trying to deceive us or that he’s wrong. It’s just that it’s hard to disregard all of the things we’ve been told about HIV/AIDS in order to accept the findings detailed in the film.
Almost as equally startling as Leung’s contention that HIV/AIDS may not be real (let that sink in for a minute), is the ferocity with which the established HIV/AIDS community of researchers, doctors, community activists, etc. has condemned House of Numbers. In fact, to me it seems like there is too much condemnation, which leads me to think that perhaps there is something about Leung’s film that scares the established HIV/AIDS community.
Without choosing sides in the debate, I can only say that House of Numbers is a fantastic documentary. It is also a very important film that should be seen by anyone who has any questions about HIV/AIDS. The film and the people in it are a very important voice in the ongoing debate about HIV/AIDS.