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Sociology of Health and Illness


Directed by Eve Marson

The case of Dr. William Hurwitz educates audiences on the complexities involved in opioid painkiller prescriptions.

The story of Dr. William Hurwitz - a preeminent pain specialist sentenced to 25 years in prison for drug trafficking - provides a window into the ethical dilemma of opioid prescriptions. Painkillers give doctors tremendous power to relieve pain, a primary goal of any physician. But this power begets trouble when the same drugs can lead to addiction, abuse and death.

In 2004 Dr. William Hurwitz was convicted of over 50 counts of narcotics distribution and handed a 25-year prison sentence. DR. FEELGOOD traces Dr. Hurwitz's trial and eventual appeal, detailing the events that led to his arrest.

Testimonies from the witnesses in Dr. Hurwitz's case contradict one another - some revere him, while others condemn him. Taken together, their accounts reveal a profile of a compassionate yet flawed doctor. The film, in telling his story, underscores the tension between every patient's right to pain relief and the lawful need for drug control. There could not be a more critical time to spark discussion on the topic, and call for careful thought and action.

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 10 - 12, College, Adults) / 84 minutes

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Director: Tal Granit & Sharon Maymon

The Farewell Party is a unique, compassionate and unlikely funny story of a group of friends at a Jerusalem retirement home who decide to help their terminally ill friend. When rumors of their assistance begin to spread, more and more people ask for their help, and the friends are faced with a life and death dilemma. Co-directors Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit have tackled an extremely sensitive issue in a vibrant and unique way.

DVD (Hebrew with English subtitles) / 2015 / 95 minutes

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Directed by Renard Cohen

Documents the opposition from both sides of the political spectrum to the ubiquitous practice of fracking for natural gas, and the health and environmental reasons behind it.

GROUNDSWELL RISING gives voice to ordinary folks engaged in a David and Goliath struggle against Big Oil and Gas. We meet parents, scientists, doctors, farmers and individuals across the political spectrum decrying the energy extraction process known as fracking that puts profits over people. This provocative documentary tracks a grassroots movement exposing dangers to clean air, water, and civil rights.

GROUNDSWELL RISING shows how fracking has contaminated drinking water and jeopardized health and quality of life. Homeowners near wells suffer from respiratory ailments and property devaluation. Reina Ripple, of Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, chronicles mounting ailments related to fracking. A former industry employee shows skin lesions and edema obtained while working with fracking waste.

Grassroots efforts have achieved bans, moratoriums, and referendums on fracking. Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson paves the way forward globally with his Solutions Project for 100% renewable energy. Transcending the genre of environmental film, GROUNDSWELL's passionate stories inspire and empower.

DVD / 2014 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 70 minutes

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Director: Muffie Meyer

We spend almost a trillion dollars a year on high-tech tests and yet almost one fifth of patients are misdiagnosed. In Making Rounds we are introduced to the power and superiority of methods of traditional diagnosis based on decades of experience, doctor-patient discussions, physical touch, and personal observation. We follow two prominent cardiologists getting it right, teaching future doctors the 'old-fashion' art and science of a thorough bedside physical exam. "A great many diseases may be diagnosed," they tell us, "just by looking at a patient's hand."

Filmed over one month in the cardiac care unit of a top New York hospital, we see the doctors in action, correcting previous misdiagnoses, predicting outcomes, saving lives, demonstrating - in dramatic real-world situations -that simply looking at and listening to patients remains medicine's most indispensable tool.

DVD / 2014 / 63 minutes

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Directed by Charles Evans Jr.

The true story of the tobacco companies' commitment to addicting the human brain and how the world came to know about it.

DDICTION INCORPORATED tells the true story of how former Philip Morris scientist Victor DeNoble's unexpected discovery of an addiction ingredient in tobacco led to more addictive cigarettes, and how his Congressional testimony forever changed how tobacco is sold and marketed.

The public revelation of long-held tobacco industry secrets leads journalists, politicians, attorneys and whistleblowers into an unexpected alliance that achieves the first-ever federal regulation of the tobacco industry.

Victor's unwavering determination to "do some good" leads to a career as an educator that informs kids about the world's only industry where success is measured by a corporation's ability to addict.

DVD / 2013 / (Grades 8-12, College, Adult) / 76 minutes

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Directed by Martha Shane, Lane Wilson

Sheds a humanistic light on the heated abortion debate by going inside the lives of the last four doctors in America who openly provide third-trimester abortions.

Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in May 2009, there are only four American doctors left who openly provide third-trimester abortions. AFTER TILLER paints a complex, compassionate portrait of these physicians--Dr. LeRoy Carhart, Dr. Warren Hern, Dr. Susan Robinson and Dr. Shelley Sella--who have become the new number-one targets of the anti-abortion movement, yet continue to risk their lives every day to do work that many believe is murder, but which they believe is profoundly important for their patients' lives.

The film weaves together revealing, in-depth interviews with the doctors with intimate verite scenes from their lives and inside their clinics, where they counsel and care for their anxious, vulnerable patients at an important crossroads in their lives. By sharing the moving stories of several of these patients, AFTER TILLER illuminates the experiences of women who seek late abortions and the reasons why they do so.

DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2013 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 88 minutes

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Directed by Linda Booker, Blaire Johnson

Extols the many benefits of industrial hemp for the environment and human health, while revealing the obstacles to what could be a thriving industry for U.S. farmers.

Industrial Hemp is making headlines in American media with the recent Farm Bill amendment allowing hemp research crops in ten states. But why does Federal policy still classify and confuse this non-psychoactive plant with marijuana as a drug? BRINGING IT HOME tells the story of hemp's past, present and future through interviews with global hemp business leaders and entrepreneurs, archive images, animation and footage filmed in Europe and the United States.

The film features the designer of "America's First Hemp House" and his quest to find the healthiest building material available to construct a safe environment for his daughter with chemical sensitivities. He discovers non-toxic, carbon neutral hempcrete that is recyclable, pest-fire-mold-resistant and cuts energy bills in half. But the major drawback for U.S. builders is that the fiber for hempcrete must be imported. Current U.S. Federal policy does not distinguish hemp from its psychoactive plant cousin marijuana, despite a long history of hemp farming in America up until the 1940s.
BRINGING IT HOME follows the hemp trail to the U.K. where business owners, researchers, farmers and Kevin McCloud, TV host of Grand Designs, discuss industrial hemp use in their country. Also featured are interviews with CEOs of million dollar U.S. companies that are importing hemp for healthy, sustainable products, and those working for policy change at the state and federal levels. A lobbyist for the CA Narcotics Officers Association gives voice to the opposition.

BRINGING IT HOME makes the case for all the benefits of a misunderstood plant that will leave viewers wondering: why aren't we growing it here?

DVD / 2013 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 52 minutes

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Directed by Ryan McGarry

Unprecedented access to the ER at Los Angeles County Hospital provides a doctor's-eye view into the heart of our complex and overburdened healthcare system.

In his vivid and thought-provoking filmmaking debut, physician Ryan McGarry gives us unprecedented access to America's busiest Emergency Department. Amidst real life-and-death situations, McGarry follows a dedicated team of charismatic, young doctors-in-training as they wrestle openly with both their ideals and with the realities of saving lives in a complex and overburdened system. Their training ground and source of inspiration is "C-Booth," Los Angeles County Hospital's legendary trauma bay, the birthplace of Emergency Medicine, where "more people have died and more people have been saved than in any other square footage in the United States."
CODE BLACK offers a tense, doctor's-eye view, right into the heart of the healthcare debate - bringing us face to face with America's only 24/7 safety net.

DVD / 2013 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 81 minutes

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Directed by Roger Weisberg

An investigation of the dangers the nation faces from runaway health care spending as well as the dangers patients face from over-diagnosis and over-treatment.

As rising health care costs threaten to bankrupt the country, MONEY & MEDICINE tackles the medical, ethical, and financial challenges of containing runaway health care spending. In addition to illuminating the so-called waste and overtreatment that pervade our medical system, this timely documentary explores promising ways to reduce health care expenditures and improve the overall quality of medical care.

MONEY & MEDICINE was filmed at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and Intermountain Medical Center in Utah. While UCLA ranks among the nation's top academic medical centers, it spends considerably more than the national average on patient care. In contrast, Intermountain spends about a third less than the national average and is a model for low cost/high quality medical care. The dramatic doctor/patient stories filmed at these two hospitals illuminate the powerful forces driving soaring health care costs as well as proven strategies that effectively reign in excessive medical spending.

With remarkable candor, MONEY & MEDICINE captures the painful end-of-life treatment choices made by patients and their families, ranging from very aggressive interventions in the ICU to palliative care at home. The film also investigates the controversy surrounding diagnostic testing and screening as well as the shocking treatment variations among patients receiving a variety of elective procedures.

As the focus of health care reform shifts from the access crisis to the cost crisis, MONEY & MEDICINE makes a timely contribution to the debate over cost containment and deficit reduction that is heating up as we approach the 2012 presidential election.

DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2012 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 83 minutes

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Directed by Peter Nicks

A day in the life of a public hospital's ER waiting room captures what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance.

The Waiting Room is a character-driven documentary film that uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film - using a blend of cinema verite and characters' voiceover - offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices.

The ER waiting room serves as the grounding point for the film, capturing in vivid detail what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance. We witness the minute-by-minute Sisyphean struggle that plagues public hospitals, where emergency rooms have to field the overwhelming health care needs of the inner city. Young victims of gun violence take their turn alongside artists and small business owners who lack insurance. The film weaves the stories of several patients - as well as the hospital staff charged with caring for them - as they cope with the complexity of the nation's public health care system, while weathering the storm of a national recession.

The Waiting Room lays bare the struggle and determination of both a community and an institution coping with limited resources and no road map for navigating a health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction. It is a film about one hospital, its multifaceted community, and how our common vulnerability to illness binds us together as humans.

DVD / 2012 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 82 minutes

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Directed by Rachel Seifert

Documents the devastating effects of the war on drugs and suggests realistic alternatives.

COCAINE UNWRAPPED tells the story of cocaine: coca farmers in Colombia, drug mules in Ecuadorian prisons, cocaine factories in the Bolivian jungle, dealers on the streets of Mexico, law enforcement officials on the streets of Baltimore -- and the everyday consumers around the dinner tables of the West. It's a story of politics, death, economic and environmental devastation and human suffering, and explores realistic alternatives to the war on drugs.

The film features front line reportage, exclusive access to the political leaders of Latin America, such as Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, as well as revealing interviews with drug czars. Watch this film and you will never think the same way again about the "War on Drugs".

DVD / 2011 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 83 minutes

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Narrated by AMY GOODMAN, host of Democracy Now!

Big Bucks, Big Pharma pulls back the curtain on the advertising tactics of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry to expose how it uses, manipulates, and sometimes creates illness in the pursuit of profit. With the help of health professionals and media scholars, the film dissects some of the most striking pharmaceutical ads on television, in the end revealing how the industry exploits people's emotions to promote the use of prescription drugs.

DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2006 / 45 minutes

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By Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau, Holly Mosher, John Wellington Ennis

Award winning documentary on the marketing tactics of drug companies.

Money Talks exposes the questionable tactics that big drug companies use to make record profits by playing with the safety of our familyˇ¬s health care. Using misleading advertising, attractive "drug reps" who wine and dine doctors and other unethical practices, the drug industry makes billions of dollars every year selling us unsafe, unnecessary and overpriced drugs. If you want to protect the people you love from their dangerous practices that compromise the safety and quality of our health care, Money Talks is a must-see film.

DVD / 50 minutes

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