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3 Needles (2005)

Not Rated | | Drama | 1 December 2006 (Singapore)
2:55 | Trailer

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A three-paneled look at the worldwide AIDS crisis: in Montreal, a porn actor (Ashmore) schemes to pass his mandatory blood test; a young nun (Sevigny) makes a personal sacrifice for the benefit of a South African village; in rural China, a black market operative (Liu) posing as a goverment-sanctioned blood drawer jeopardizes an entire village's safety.



2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mabel Adams ...
Nahmnru, the African Grandmother
Asckt ...
Tea Picker
Denys, the Porn Actor
Caroline Aspirot ...
Nontombi Bovana ...
Rob Burns ...
Olive Cowie, the Porn Actor's Mother
Soldier Xuan
Tanabadee Chokpikultong ...
Tong Sam, the Rice Farmer
Yotaka Cheukaew ...
Qi, the Rice Farmer's Daughter (as Yotaka Chorkreaw)
Eric Codana ...
Catherine Colvey ...
Clara the Novice's Mother (scenes deleted)
Kathryn Costello ...
Depanneur Manager
Douglas Cwaba ...


Sister Hilde narrates three separates stories, each directly concerning the AIDS crisis. From a Montréal based order, Sister Hilde, Sister Mary and Clara, a novice, have just arrived in Africa to work as nurses in a plantation's medical center. They learn that legend there has it that having sex with a virgin will transfer infection out from oneself. Because of this legend, an infant girl is raped. Clara, who also learns the main cause of the virus' spread within the plantation, does whatever she can to ensure that Hallyday, the plantation owner, flexes his economic power to right the wrongs on the plantation. Back in Montréal, a porn actor named Denys has been cheating on his mandatory monthly HIV tests, using his father's blood to pass as his own. As he believes he has been exposed to the virus, the negative results will allow him to continue working. When he is caught, his mother, Olive, learns the hard way of her son's true HIV status and his occupation, and devises a strategy for... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Three Continents. Three Stories. One Unforgettable Experience. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »


Official Sites:




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Release Date:

1 December 2006 (Singapore)  »

Also Known As:

Three Needles  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


CAD 3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The funeral and wedding scenes where completely unrehearsed. During the shooting of both scenes most cast and crew where moved to tears. See more »


Referenced in Midnight Movie (2008) See more »


The Motion
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User Reviews

A Visually Breathtaking, Emotionally Staggering Film of Great Importance
28 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

3 NEEDLES as written and directed by Thom Fitzgerald (The Hanging Garden, The Wild Dogs, Blood Moon, Beefcake) is a powerful statement about the insidious spread of AIDS throughout the world, taking us to places we the viewers would rarely visit from the news media emphasis on the disease. The film is three stories in three countries told in tandem not unlike the technique so successfully used in BABEL, CRASH, and TRAFFIC. Employing cinematography of enormous talent and a cast of terrific actors, Fitzgerald manages to share his stories with such sensitivity that every viewer will feel involved in the tragedy that is rotting away our globe.

The film opens with a ceremony in Africa (supposedly South Africa) where young boys undergo ritualistic circumcision, learn the fighting tricks of manhood, and move into society as Men. This single portion of the film is intensely beautiful in its non-voyeuristic observation of an ages old ritual, so beautiful to watch that it calls for Pause/Replay! From Africa we go to rural China where Jin Ping (Lucy Liu, speaking Mandarin only) is the very pregnant force who runs an underground blood bank which while serving the donors with some cash also contaminates the population with HIV virus (we discover that Jin Ling is HIV positive, carrying a baby at risk, and supporting her HIV husband). The trials she encounters in her shady business are nothing to the moment of personal anguish when she delivers her baby without assistance in a cornfield.

Moving to Canada we meet Denys (Shawn Ashmore), a porn star who is HIV positive but steals blood from his ill father for his frequent 'tests' required by the porn director to hide his positive status in order to continue making porn movies to support his family. His mother Olive (Stockard Channing) discovers his status, hears about AIDS patients' ability to cash in on life insurance early, and infects herself so that she can take advantage of the early insurance cash to provide a life of comfort in the small time they both now have for herself and her now fatherless son.

And we return to South Africa where three nuns - Sister Clara (Chloë Sevigny), Sister Hilde Francis (Olympia Dukakis) and Sister Mary John (Sandra Oh) - set up a clinic to treat the villagers, finding only that acts of tremendous self-sacrifice can stave off the spread of the gore of AIDS. The Men we have watched in the beginning of the film walk into the life that faces a world crippled by HIV and the contrast is powerful.

3 NEEDLES' cinematographer Tom Harting deserves awards for the sheer magnificence of his images he captures on film, not only the majestic vistas of Africa and China but also the intimate moments such as Jin Ping's birthing. The musical score by Christophe Beck and Trevor Morris manages to find the atmosphere of each of the three stations of the cross Fitzgerald examines. The acting cast, both the gifted well-known actors as well as the smaller roles by unknowns in each location, is magnificent. If the film has a flaw it is in the unfortunate arena of avoiding preaching: watching and hearing the events is so very powerful that words of summation feel superficial and even insulting. But that is a small flaw in a film of wonder. Highly recommended. Grady Harp

11 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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