The “tiger” in the title of Mike Thomas’ documentary is HIV/AIDS, and those living with it are Thai children who have been abandoned by their families and turned into pariahs by their communities. These children have found a sanctuary at Baan Gerda, a rural institution that was originally created as a hospice. The youngsters who live at Baan Gerda thrive in an environment of love, education and understanding that has produced remarkable results – boys and girls who first arrived in desperately poor health have been turned into energetic and enthusiastic dynamos. Or as one young Baan Gerda resident explains, “I just want to be a normal person.”
Alas, the film details the shockingly primitive attitudes that many people in Thailand have about HIV and AIDS, and the cruelty that the Baan Gerda children suffered at the hands of idiot communities and hostile families is thoroughly sickening. Indeed, the level of ignorance is so deep that many people in Thailand refuse to share meals with HIV/AIDS patients because they fear that the disease can be transmitted across dinner plates.
This DVD release comes in two versions: the full-length 84-minute feature and a truncated 53-minute educational version that is supplemented with short profiles of several of the Baan Gerda children and a greater overview of the lingering stigma that HIV and AIDS patients experience in Thailand. Both presentations are extremely disturbing and deeply moving.