A 2008 Tribeca Film Festival premiere, Under Our Skin is a fascinating, terrifying look at Lyme Disease, an often unrecognized pandemic that has taken root in our country over the past two decades. Even more frightening than the life-shattering disease is the reluctance of the medical, health insurance, and political machines to quickly and effectively address the problem. In too many cases, patients' symptoms are misdiagnosed, mistreated, ignored, or dismissed as merely psychosomatic.
In Under Our Skin—one of our favorite docs of last year—director Andy Abrahams Wilson uses the stories of several triumphant Lyme patients (and their long, winding roads to treatment) to build a case for what amounts to an unflinching indictment of the modern healthcare system, where the interwined interests of physicians and insurance companies too often trump the well-being of patients. In outlining the scientific history of Lyme and the debates surrounding it, Wilson also highlights the informed doctors and dedicated researchers who have worked against the grain; in some cases, they have found similarities between the basis of Lyme and the roots of afflictions such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s, and even syphilis.
Given the current debate about healthcare and reform, this film could not be more timely or relevant. We live in a world where these issues are on everyone's mind, from the president to the family practitioner down the street to the uninsured, unemployed masses terrified of getting sick.
Finally, after a healthy life on the festival circuit—and just in time for summer—general audiences are able to experience this must-see doc for themselves. In New York, IFC Center is hosting a limited release of the film, starting this week. The filmmakers will be on hand at screenings on Friday, 6/19 (9:40), and Saturday, 6/20 (5:05, 7:25, 9:40). The film also opens across the country in coming weeks.
In conjunction with the film's release, Tribeca Film presents the first in our series of full-length panels available in their entirety on the Tribeca Film Channel on YouTube. In this fascinating post-screening discussion—part of the Behind the Screens series (sponsored by iShares) during the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival—moderator Robert Bazell (the Chief Science and Health Correspondent for NBC News) sits down with Wilson, award-winning and bestselling author Amy Tan (herself a victim of Lyme), and leading Lyme-literate physician (yes, that's a term, because so many are not) Dr. Richard Horowitz. What follows is an intimate, challenging, timely conversation about the ramifications of the disease, Wilson's impetus for the film, and the contentious debates surrounding Lyme's prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Making this panel available to the public is something new for us here at Tribeca, and we hope you are stimulated by the conversation. Once you watch the video, please log in to My Tribeca and add your comments below.