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Documentary Screening - "Virulent: The Vaccine War"

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On May 11th, 2023 the McGill Office for Science and Society (OSS) will host a screening of the documentary, "Virulent: The Vaccine War". Following the screening, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Director of the OSS, will moderate a discussion and Q&A with the director Tjardus Greidanus and producer Laura Davis.

About the film

"Virulent: The Vaccine War" examines the history of vaccine hesitancy and denial, and the effect Covid-19 has had on anti-vaccination activists. The film also looks at the ways in which the anti-vaccine movement weaponizes history to target Black Americans and other minority communities.

About Our Panelists

Laura Davis (Producer/Interviewer) & Tjardus Greidanus (Director/Editor/Cinematographer) specialize in making impactful documentaries about science and medicine. Their latest project, Virulent: The Vaccine War, examines the history of vaccine hesitancy and the galvanizing effect Covid-19 has had on anti-vaccination activists. It is their follow-up to the CINE Golden Eagle-winning A Shot to Save the World about the creation of the Salk polio vaccine which featured an exclusive interview with Bill Gates and streamed on Paramount+ throughout 2020. The film originally premiered on the Smithsonian Channel and BBC Four and was honored by the CDC Foundation on World Polio Day 2013.

Another feature documentary, Burden of Genius, an exploration of Dr. Thomas Starzl’s pioneering work in organ transplantation, is heading to public television in 2023 following sold-out screenings at the Carnegie Science Center and hundreds of screenings at top transplant centers including Stanford, Columbia, Harvard-Mass General, Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, UPMC, Duke and University of Chicago as well as at transplant conferences around the world.

Before turning to documentaries, Laura and Tjardus made hundreds of marketing featurettes for Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. Over two decades, they worked for some of the world’s most respected directors producing over 30 projects for Martin Scorsese, James L. Brooks, Mike Nichols, Cameron Crowe and Michael Mann. They also made the narrative features Hellbent (2018) and A New York Heartbeat (2013), which gave Emmy Award-winner Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) her first starring role.

Laura also produced the documentaries Everest: On Location in the Death Zone (Miramax) and The Chef & The Architect (Food Network), and the telefilms, Someone Else’s Child (ABC) and Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack (CBS). She got her start as an interviewer on NBC Radio and later for Showtime/The Movie Channel following her graduation from Cornell University.

Dutch-born Tjardus is currently prepping The Shot, a narrative feature about Dr. Jonas Salk and his creation of the polio vaccine, based on A Shot to Save the World. He successfully straddles documentary and narrative filmmaking bringing to both a love for authenticating detail and character-driven stories.

Watch the trailer of "Virulent: The Vaccine War".


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