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Acclaimed Documentary "On the Lake" Showing March 11

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
February 25, 2009

Courtesy of Eagle Peak Media

UNH presents a free screening of “On the Lake,” an acclaimed documentary that looks at the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic in 1900s America and the world today. The screening, on Wednesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. in the MUB Theater 2, will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers, David Bettencourt and G. Wayne Miller. It is open to the public.

The screening is presented as part of the course Public Health – History and Practice (HMP 505) in the department of health management and policy.

“The course traces many of the major communicable diseases that have impacted public health in the U.S. and the world, including the long-term history of tuberculosis,” says Marc Hiller, associate professor of health management and policy and instructor of the course. “From a public health point of view, TB prevention and control efforts in the U.S. have been relatively effective, but newer mutating and antibiotic resistant strains have made it more difficult to treat.” Tuberculosis is the second-most lethal single-agent global infection, after HIV/AIDS.

Told with never-before-seen footage and stills and the on-camera accounts of TB survivors, much of “On the Lake” is based at Zambarano Hospital on remote Wallum Lake in Pascoag, R.I., which opened in 1905 as a TB sanatorium. Granted access to the hospital’s entire photographic archives and many records, the filmmakers depict the desperation Americans felt with this disease that can be spread by a simple cough or sneeze. They capture harsh conditions endured by patients –– sleeping outdoors year-round (even in snowy winters), for example.

Wound through the history and medicine of TB are powerful accounts of people, some now in their 80s, who survived TB and years of exile from home, family and friends.

“Dave and I hope that ‘On the Lake’ will help raise awareness about this killer,” said filmmaker G. Wayne Miller, “but this is about more than public health. It is about real lives and real people. Above all, this is a story-driven film, an account both of tragedy and triumph against great odds.”

“On the Lake” is a production of Providence, R.I.-based Eagle Peak Media. More information is available at www.onthelakemovie.com.

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