An impressive documentary returns to Nevada City. It was an award winner in January at this year's Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival. See “Under Our Skin.” It plays Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, at the Nevada Theatre.
The title reference of “Under Our Skin” is a tick, the carrier of Lyme disease. This film draws you into the personal stories of chronic sufferers. It exposes narrow thinking and commercial conflicts of interest. It lends hope about medical strides being made.
The storytelling about courageous individuals works. The timely theme of a health care culture not geared to people's health provides much food for concern.
Not only must sufferers live their nightmares for years, they also must live with a medical establishment officially denying that Lyme disease fuels the war inside their bodies.
Director Andy Abrahams Wilson says he is pleased that communities like Nevada City provide a theatrical showing. He thinks that public television has shied away from a film like this because it harps a bit too much on the medical industrial complex.
Wilson says that, because of an attorney general's investigation in Connecticut, a new Lyme guidelines panel has been convened with care to keep people with conflicts of interest off the panel. Wilson has provided nine copies of the film to the panel.
It's fair to say that claims about chronic Lyme disease are controversial, as are the aggressive treatments that many patients applaud for radically improving their lives. But it sure seems that fair is not fair where doors slam in the faces of compassion and progress.
“Under Our Skin” is talking epidemic proportions but also is citing reasons for hope. The film shows well that awareness and commitment can beat the institutional bugs, and it can beat the bacteria, too.
Not incidentally Jordan Fisher Smith, one of the chronic Lyme sufferers in the film, resides in Nevada City and will appear on stage Sunday answering questions.
- - - - - Q and A with "Under Our Skin" director Andy Abrahams Wilson - - - - -
Excerpted from a discussion between film reviewer, Chuck Jaffee, and the director of “Under Our Skin,” Andy Abrahams Wilson:
Chuck Jaffee: Why did you make a documentary about Lyme disease?
Andy Abrhams Wilson: My twin had it long ago. More recently, a friend suffered with it. This is a situation that needs to be debunked … like crop circles.
CJ: Around exposing doctors with conflicts of interest and the narrow politics of setting guidelines, how is it possible that doctors aren’t up in arms against such fundamental impingements on their autonomy to treat their patients as they need to be treated?
AAW: Livelihoods are at risk. Reputations are at stake. Doctors are just too busy.
CJ: Is it fair to say that Lyme really does look like lots of conditions and lots of people could find themselves in bad shape and in need of heavy duty medical treatment even if there wasn’t establishment pressure against proper diagnosis and treatment?
AAW: More than 50% of chronic diseases are related to biofilms. The biofilm model is an accepted model in science. A lot of doctors don’t know how to diagnose Lyme disease. The testing is known to be inadequate.
CJ: What do you hope to accomplish with your film?
AAW: We need to capture people’s imaginations, to show them how big this is and how bad this is and how this can affect us all.
CJ: I think you’ve made an impressive, engaging awareness-raiser. Are you satisfied with the film you made?
AAW: Very satisfied. We knew that the key to telling a good story was finding good characters. We put it out to the Lyme community [Yes, there’s a very active Lyme community.] and received hundreds of letters. The sufferers that appear in our film are articulate and you really relate to them.