Can this Lyme disease exposé get under Oscar voters' skins?
Let's hope the Oscars cite "Under Our Skin" next week when the academy unveils the shortlist of titles in the running for best documentary feature. It's not only a compelling work of filmmaking; it's important because of its shocking message: Lyme disease may be going undiagnosed as a greater and more widespread threat to Americans' health than AIDS.
"Under Our Skin" has won more than a dozen top awards at film festivals (see the full list here at the docu's website), but it still doesn't have a U.S. distributor. It had its qualifying run in a Los Angeles theater to make it into the Oscar race — the week Michael Jackson died — but it still needs to be adopted by a major distributor to make sure it's widely seen. This is one of those cases in which the Oscars can play a starring role in an urgent cause.
At a time when America's leaders battle over how to fix the nation's healthcare system, "Under Our Skin" is an illuminating anecdotal example of what's ailing. Bravely, it spotlights many victims of a fast-growing epidemic of Lyme disease who go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because of corruption in the healthcare biz.
"We've submitted this film at the Oscars because we want it to be seen by the largest number of people," producer-director Andy Wilson tells Gold Derby. "If we get into the Oscars, it might make a big difference toward creating changes in the medical and insurance industries needed to save lives."
"Under Our Skin" has been a crusade for Wilson, who shot 400 hours of footage over five years while chasing suspicious medical and legal authorities to get justice for their victims: Lyme disease patients who can't get proper care because the medical industry doesn't see profit in it.
"We focus on several powerful cases," Wilson says, "but there were many others we encountered along the way — some too tragic to include."
See more about "Under Our Skin" at its website.
Photo credit: Open Eye Pictures