**This is an updated version of an earlier post about this documentary.** ON THE LAKE airs as part of RI Stories, the ongoing WSBE Rhode Island PBS series that features documentaries from the Ocean State. Catch RI Stories Saturday nights at 7 PM and Sundays at 11 PM on WSBE Rhode Island PBS, digital 36.1; Cox/Verizon/Full Channel 08; DirecTV 36; Dish Network 7776. (ComCast subscribers, please check local listings for the channel number in your area.)**
After more than a year of work, filmmakers David Bettencourt and G. Wayne Miller have released their feature-length documentary ON THE LAKE: Life and Love in a Distant Place, an emotionally powerful look at the tuberculosis epidemic in 1900s America and globally today.
ON THE LAKE tells its story with never-before-seen footage and stills, and the on-camera accounts of TB survivors – including Barbara Parkos of Newport; Emily Martineau and Sheila O'Brien, both of Harrisville; John Lynes of Pascoag; Russ Denham, who summers in the Ocean State winters in Florida; and 80-year-old Frank Beazley, who has been a patient at Zambarano for almost 42 years.
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. But what started as a local story about the institution unfolded into a much larger story about tuberculosis worldwide and that led the filmmakers to sanitoria around the country. Segments were filmed in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Maryland, Colorado, and Saranac Lake, N.Y. – a community actually built around the disease.
ON THE LAKE has been endorsed by prominent health care activist Dr. Paul Farmer, professor at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Partners in Health in Boston. Farmer, one of the world’s foremost health care activists in the fight against global TB and AIDS, endorsed and applauded ON THE LAKE for its “human story of the tuberculosis epidemic.”
Even before it premiered on the big screen on February 13, 2009 the film had already become part of a worldwide initiative to stem the epidemic rise of TB and has been recognized by the Stop TB Partnership, a Geneva, Switzerland-based healthcare organization that includes members of the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Agency for International Development.
But the power of the film is its story. Through letters, postcards, and on-camera interviews with survivors, the moving stories - interwoven throughout - put a human face on the epidemic.
For additional insight, read The Providence Journal review by Michael Janusonis and the movie review for WJAR NBC10 by Jim Taricani