The Final Inch by Irene Taylor Brodsky
USA, 2009, 38 minutes, DVD
Winner of the 2009 IDA Pare Lorentz Award, 2008 Academy Award Nominee: Best Short Subject Documentary
Nearly 50 years after a vaccine for Polio was developed in the United States, the Polio virus still finds refuge in some of the world’s most vulnerable places. Into India’s impoverished neighborhoods, The Final Inch follows the massive – and yet highly personalized – mission to eradicate Polio from the planet. One of history’s most feared diseases, now largely forgotten; Polio has become a disease of the world’s poor.
A quiet army goes door-to-door, and slum to slum, to reach the last unvaccinated children. The global strategy aimed at hundreds of millions of children becomes intensely personal for the vaccinators working to save them. In the most marginalized Muslim enclaves, children are hidden from vaccinators because American-made medicines are not to be trusted. Others are deliberately kept behind closed doors as a form of social protest by their frustrated communities. For the world’s poorest, saying ‘no’ to vaccinations is sometimes their only political voice. And then there are the millions of homeless children across India, who get the disease because they cannot be found in time.
In all, The Final Inch explores how the final days of any endeavor are always the most challenging and is a profound testament to those working on the front lines of public health in the backwaters of our world. Recalling the painful legacy of Polio in America are older survivors in a wheelchair and an Iron Lung. Everyone’s stories challenge our most basic assumptions about disease, poverty and our own health as a human right.
The Plow That Broke the Plains by Pare Lorentz
USA, 1936, 25 minutes, DVD
With The Plow That Broke the Plains, his first film and the first US Government-sponsored documentary, Pare Lorentz won praise and wide recognition for using sensitive photography, dramatic editing and a beautiful score by composer Virgil Thomson to illuminate a local problem of national importance – the challenges faced by wheat farmers and cattle ranchers in the Great Plains. As the film climaxes in a vivid portrait of the record drought that produced the dust bowl and the plight of the “blown out, baked and broke” people who felt its impact, it becomes clear that a new master of the documentary form has found his voice.