Stolen Vision - Counterfeit Medicine in Iraqi Kurdistan

★★★★

Directed by: #DaleMcEwan

Written by: #DaleMcEwan

Starring: #DaleMcEwan

Film Review by: #DarrenTilby



Dale McEwan's #documentary details the devastating consequences of counterfeit medicine in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Specifically counterfeit Avastin, which blinded a number of patients in 2013.


The problem here is that Iraq’s devolved governments are tasked with sourcing their own medical supplies (amongst other things) on quite a tight budget and often try to do so as cheaply as possible. This has led to the Kurdistan Health Ministry purchasing drugs from unverified sources from neighbouring Turkey. Smugglers run these counterfeit drugs over the border and sell them to the Health Ministry, who then, unfortunately, fail to assess if the drug is suitable. Or even genuine, as was the case here.

Covering all of the salient points and leaving no stone unturned, McEwan interviews victims, officials from the Kurdistan Health Ministry, doctors and activists, as well as experts in the UK. #Interviews are conducted professionally and with purpose, but don’t shy away from probing for uncomfortable truths where necessary. Methodical in his approach, McEwan presents evidence and counter-arguments clearly, effectively and timely; unveiling more than a few fabrications in the process.


Of course, none of this would have been possible if McEwan hadn’t done extensive research beforehand. But I’m happy to report that, like all good investigative #journalists (of which there seems to be less and less of), he very much has. Having gathered copies of lab reports and other written evidence, and expert and victim testimonies, he systematically sets about uncovering the blanket of deceit which the local government had lain over the situation.

Indeed, watching as McEwan presents evidence that disproves the Kurdistan Health Ministry’s version of events – often completely blindsiding the official being #interviewed – never gets boring, and is, in fact, wholly satisfying.


The camera work is as to be expected for the type of film this is (an #interview-heavy #documentary), and the film does lack the flourish often found in other #documentaries. However, the video and audio quality are both excellent, and the hard-hitting investigative nature of the movie more than makes up for any lack of pizzazz. It's also worth mentioning that at 1-hour in length, the film feels just long enough to cover everything sufficiently, but not too long that it feels like it’s overstayed its welcome.


My only complaint here is that, at times, the subtitles aren’t always very well synced with the interviewee's speech: there are several moments throughout where the speech will end and leave the subtitles still rolling. Although this can be a little off-putting, it isn’t really a big problem.


Stolen Vision is a wonderfully informative piece of investigative #journalism. McEwan has crafted an incisive and concise takedown of governmental #corruption through exhaustive research and solid film-making. More to the point, it’s nice to see a #journalist properly hold to account those who have/continue to lie at the expensive of people’s health. Keep it up!