EXCLUSIVE: First Run Features is promising “a robust awards campaign” for The Quiet Epidemic, after acquiring U.S. distribution rights to the documentary about Chronic Lyme and tick-borne disease.
The film directed by Lindsay Keys and Winslow Crane-Murdoch will begin a one-week Oscar-qualifying run at the IFC Center in New York on December 2, followed by a nationwide rollout in early 2023.
According to CDC figures, almost half a million Americans become infected with Lyme disease each year. Of those infected, a subset of patients will develop chronic symptoms, but according to the film, the medical community has largely been reluctant to acknowledge the reality of long-term illness from Lyme disease.
“The Quiet Epidemic follows a young girl from Brooklyn and a Duke University scientist both diagnosed with a disease said to not exist: Chronic Lyme disease,” a summary of the film notes. “Their search for answers lands them in the middle of a vicious medical debate. What begins as a patient story evolves into an investigation into the history of Lyme disease, dating back to its discovery in 1975. A paper trail of suppressed scientific research and buried documents reveal why ticks—and the diseases they carry—have been allowed to quietly spread around the globe.”
Deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease, “are mostly active when temperatures are above 45 ̊F, and they thrive in areas with at least 85-percent humidity,” the EPA reports. “Thus, warming temperatures associated with climate change are projected to increase the range of suitable tick habitat and are therefore one of multiple factors driving the observed spread of Lyme disease.”
“The Quiet Epidemic is an alarming documentary which everyone needs to see to understand the monumental risk Lyme disease presents across the country,” Marc Mauceri, president of First Run Features, said in a statement. “The filmmakers have done a masterful job at weaving history, patient stories and scientific information into a call to action.”
The documentary premiered in May at the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto and will next screen at DOC NYC on Saturday, November 12. The film has been an official selection of 14 film festivals this fall, winning Best Documentary Feature at the Macon Film Festival in Georgia.
“We’re thrilled to partner with First Run Features to bring The Quiet Epidemic to audiences nationwide,” Key and Crane-Murdoch said. “The response from our film festival screenings has been incredibly encouraging. The film is already making an impact, and in many ways, this is just the beginning.”
The film is produced by documentary legend Chris Hegedus (The War Room) and Daria Lombroso (Most Likely To Succeed); Crane-Murdoch and Mark Harrison (The Lion’s Share) edited the film; Doug Blush (Icarus, 20 Feet From Stardom) served as supervising editor. The Quiet Epidemic is Keys’ and Crane-Murdoch’s feature film debut.
In conjunction with the documentary’s release, the filmmakers intend to raise public awareness of Chronic Lyme disease “via social media engagement and political advocacy. The film team is calling on the global medical, scientific, and political communities to join forces and find much-needed and long-overdue answers.”
You can watch a trailer for the documentary here: