HotDocs ’22: The Quiet Epidemic

It’s all in your head. Everything is going to be fine.

These sorts of belittling comments lie at the heart of?The Quiet Epidemic, a searing documentary that explores the widespread suffering associated with Chronic Lyme Disease. Directed by Lindsay Keys and Winslow Crane-Murdoch,?Epidemic?follows young Julia Bruzzese and her father as they fight for answers to her mysterious symptoms. When they discover that she suffers from Lyme Disease, Julia and her father quickly realize that they are not alone in their battle to be taken seriously by doctors and insurance companies who seem determined to keep this epidemic quiet.

Terrifying and honest, The Quiet Epidemic is an unsettling examination of the effects of Chronic Lyme Disease and the attempts by those in power to sweep it under the rug. As patients continue to suffer, so too are they largely ignored by the medical industry. Following Julia and her father as they look for answers, Epidemic unravels the stories of countless others who are suffering the same fate. Discounted by doctors who believe that their disease is ?in their mind?, these patients find themselves pushed to the side by those who refuse to believe their claims.

The question is why? 

With cases abounding, why would the medical community deliberately neglect such widespread trauma? Although Epidemic does explore potential explanations through its examination of the cost of treatment or vicious insurance companies, so too does it also seem to struggle to find a definitive response. In this way, the film recognizes the insanity of an industry that appears willing to do whatever it can to dissuade people of their disease. (For instance, in one particularly alarming scene, Julia?s father passionately asks for help while the CDC attempts to assure him that there is nothing more that can be done.)

What?s more, the relevancy of Epidemic increases when one considers the rapid response to the current global pandemic. Whereas COVID-19 was immediately addressed as a serious cultural issue due to its widespread symptoms, Chronic Lyme Disease continues to be something that is left on the margins by the medical community. While it could be argued that the effects of COVID were more immediately visible on a global scale, the filmmakers behind Epidemic still argue that the facts surrounding Chronic Lyme Disease deserves a response as well.

To them, it?s time that patients afflicted by this Quiet Epidemic to finally make some noise.

The Quiet Epidemic is now playing at HotDocs ?22. For screening information, click here.

To join the conversation surrounding Lyme Disease, click here.

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